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Heroic Acts Amid Raging Fires; President Trump Refuse to Listen Recording of Khashoggi's Murder; Theresa May Going Round the Clock; Benjamin Netanyahu's Government in Chaos; World Headlines; President Trump had Television Interviews and Answered Questions About the Russia Investigation, Jamal Khashoggi, and Went After William McRaven; America's Midterms 2018; Hospital Patients Narrowly Escape Flames; Economic Forum Ends Without a Joint Communique; Elephant Hospital Opens in Northern India. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired November 19, 2018 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: The devastation across California unimaginable, wildfires forces people to evacuate many now living in tents and we're hearing heartbreaking stories of how they survived.

Plus, the U.S. president again praising the U.S. ties to Saudi Arabia, but as for the recording of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Mr. Trump says he will not listen, that it's too terrible.

And the Houthi leader says his forces are ready for the fighting to finally end in Yemen. But only if the Saudi-led coalition really wants peace.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts right now.

At 3 a.m. on the U.S. east coast with start with these wildfires in the state of California. The death toll there continues to rise, presently now 80 people who have lost their lives there.

On a map you can see where the fires are burning in both the north and southern parts of the state. Scorching land there for more than a week. So far, the fires have destroyed an area larger than the city of Chicago.

The so-called campfire in the north it's about 65 percent contained. The Woolsey fire in the south, almost 90 percent contained. And across the state, thousands of people now displaced.

In one Wal-Mart parking lot, take a look here. You can see survivors they have set up tents, turning the area into a makeshift village.

In the aftermath of so much chaos, so much destruction, there are some incredible stories of survival that we are hearing, one of them involves a school bus driver praised for helping 22 students to escape the Camp Fire in Northern California. Our Paul Vercammen reports how the man was able to navigate a bus and

its passengers through pure hell.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a bus driver from heaven.



PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the Camp Fire raged, Kevin McKay a few months in to his job for the Paradise school district praised for drive of his life and the lives of two dozen others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 the sky was really menacing.

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

VERCAMMEN: Were you scared?

MERS: Very scared think 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, at a couple of points I think that, you know, we had some honest discussions about is this the time to get out of the bus?

VERCAMMEN: Smoke seeped into the bus, children starting 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 are tired right now. And Kevin without everybody thinking about it took his shirt off and tore it in to little pieces and we started tearing it up as quickly as we could and to make filters for these kids to breathe.

VERCAMMEN: They dip the rags in water, the harrowing truck continued, McKay drove in the middle of 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 Blake Beers surviving at a black bear diner.

MERS: It was great. After all that tenseness really needed a joke to just loosen everything up.

VERCAMMEN: Then back between walls of fire. MERS: 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 gridlock 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: Abbies' home burned so did Charlotte and Kevin's, Mary's still stand, homes were lost but in the end, everyone on the buzz survived.

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 pressure passengers safe.

[03:04:59] Paul Vercammen, CNN, Paradise, California.


HOWELL: Safety is part of a bus driver's job. Certainly, safety was paramount driving through something like that.

And Ivan Cabrera, our meteorologist here to tell us about what is in store now for California. They've felt with the fires, that's still in bloom.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Still going, yes, of course.

HOWELL: The spoke smoke is a problem and now rain on the way.

CABRERA: So, rain on the way which is going to be a good thing because it's going to help the firefighter's efforts there and extinguish the fire basically it's going to will be that heavy. The problem is because it will be that heavy, we could be dealing with some mud flow issues here just like last year.

So, let's talk about that. And absolutely heroic efforts have been underway across California. Another grandmother there that needier to get out, a garbage man came by and picked her up. Incredible stuff here from this most destructive fire ever in that California.

These are kinds of fires now that people just don't have enough time to get out. Winds subsiding, this is excellent news for today. The humidity is also going to come down, we are at five, 10, 15 percent, it's critically low, those values will be increasing the temperatures will be a little cooler as well.

And then we're going to get ready for some rainfall that's going to be moving in. But here is the latest from Cal Fire. Sixty-five percent containment now. We have been north of 50 percent for quite some time now, so this is good. The problem is that 65 has been stuck all day because we did have gusty wind through Sunday. Those are the winds that are going to subside for Monday. One hundred-fifty thousand acres of course have been burned so far

incredible amount of structures. Thousands of homes lost. There is what George had been talking about. Their air quality index has been just horribly low here, not just for sensitive groups, we are talking everybody.

I mean, I had folks and friends that have been out to San Francisco for a quick trip there, I couldn't see in front of them that's how bad it has been across the California because of these fires.

There you can see the red dots not good, we're in the middle here unhealthy. But we're going in the right direction, this is from the NOA satellite up above. Take a look at the plumes the smoke there. Obviously, you see the hot spot in the fire in the Northern California but then you see the smoke. I mean, it's going to Mexico and then the wind shift, it goes up to Canada in to the northern plains.

We have been sharing that part of the story unfortunately with a lot of states across the west of course no worse than California.

So how much rain do we need? We need half an inch of rain to stop the spread of the fires that would be great. We need 2 inches or more to basically extinguish them. I think we're going to get that.

The problem is, I think we're going to get it too quick. It's not going to be a light rain that's going to be on and off throughout the day. And it's going to come in rather quick on Wednesday with one punch, then another one on Friday. And then perhaps even through the early part on the part of next week.

As that rain hits those burn scars that's the concern there, it basically is going to fall on cement. And so that is going to trigger the mud flows, that of course can be quite deadly in California. So, we'll follow in that part of the story next week.

HOWELL: That's a big deal. Al right. Ivan, thank you.

All right. Turning to another story we are following this day the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The U.S. president spoke about the investigation.

On Sunday he said that he doesn't know if the Saudi crown prince lied to him which he claimed that he wasn't involved. The Saudi's have firmly denied that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman played a role in the murder last month. But sources say the CIA believes he personally ordered it.

The U.S. government has yet to reach a final conclusion on it. Mr. Trump says he is due to get a full report come Tuesday. He's already been briefed on some of the evidence including an audio recording, though Mr. Trump says he does not plan to listen to that audio.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape. (CROSSTALK)



TRUMP: But I've been fully--

WALLACE: Why don't you want to hear it, sir?

TRUMP: Because it's a suffering tape. It's a terrible tape. I've been fully briefed on it. There's no reason for me to hear it. In fact, I said to the people, should I? They said you really shouldn't, there is no reason. I know exactly, I know everything that went on the tape without having it hear it.

WALLACE: And what happened?

TRUMP: It was very violent, very vicious and terrible.


HOWELL: Following the story live in Turkey our Jomana Karadsheh is live in Istanbul just outside the consulate there. Mr. Trump described it as a suffering tape. He's acknowledged that he's aware of it and has not listen to it. And this comes ahead of Tuesday. He is due to see a full report from the CIA regarding this investigation. If what we have heard of that CIA assessment is true, Jomana, where does this leave the U.S. president?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, George, you hear there the president saying he doesn't want to listen to it. Because of the content of this recording, of course we don't know what is on this regarding if there are multiple recordings, but by all indications from what we have heard from where it's leaks or this struck feed of information from Turkey's officials. It is quite horrific as being described by the president there. Saying very violent and very vicious.

But some will be very critical of President Trump, George, not listening to something like this. This is a key piece of evidence coming at a very critical time. It could impact his decision when it comes to how things move forward with Saudi Arabia. A critical juncture in relations between these two countries.

[03:10:02] But I think President Trump has made it clear over and over again, saying that Saudi Arabia is a spectacular ally in the region, he's prioritized what he is saying as jobs, money, the business deals with Saudi Arabia over this murder and over this case and many will be very critical of this. But we'll have to wait and see what happens next.

And you know, some would tell you if you look at where we are right now, it has been nearly 50 days since the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and one would expect that a lot of this intelligence would have been gathered in the past few weeks. We know that the CIA director Gina Haspel was here about four weeks

ago. We know that the Turkish authorities did share the evidence they have with her. She listened to the recording, so some would wonder why is it taking the U.S. administration so long, yes, we have seen the sanctions that were announced last week.

Impacting the 17 individuals, the Saudis that were -- some of them were also we expect under investigation or under arrest in Saudi Arabia over this killing. But some would say there hasn't been real significant meaningful action from the United States or the international community when it comes to this case.

And that is something that is very worrying and you know, very disturbing for many in this region who think that this is the time for the international community to act when it comes to Saudi Arabia, especially that they have to an extent turned a blind eye to a lot of the human rights abuses and allegations over the past year.

And that is why, George, we are hearing a lot of calls now for an independent international investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

HOWELL: And, again, Jomana, you pointed this out, Turkey has opened this up to many other nations this investigation, waiting on the U.S. response and that response could be mixed between the House of Representatives and between the president. We'll see how this goes.

Thank you for the reporting.

Khashoggi's death could, in fact, impact the car in Yemen. Iranian- backed Houthis are locked in to fighting with a Saudi-led coalition there. The Houthi leader now says his fighters are ready for a ceasefire facing pressure from the U.S. The Saudi coalition might be forced to accept it.

Top U.S. officials said last month there needs to be a ceasefire within 30 days.

CNN's Sam Kiley following the story live in Abu Dhabi this hour. Sam, with this latest peace offering and actions taken to reduce violence, is this truly being seen as a real opportunity to change this year's- long war?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, yes, I think it is. There is a glimmer of hope amid the misery in the Yemen, which has been suffering a war now nearly four years old.

Four hundred thousand children on the brink of starvation according to this U.N. Children's Fund. Tens of thousands of thousands of casualties, and a proxy war that until the last couple of weeks, was going nowhere from anybody's perspective.

But now, more or less overnight, the Houthi spokesman, the leader, Mohammed al- Houthi put out a statement saying that the Houthis would respect this call for a ceasefire and would offer some unilateral signs of goodwill by offering to end, for now, a long-range missile strikes and the use of drones against not just the Saudi-led coalition inside the Yemen, but perhaps more importantly outside of the Yemen.

They have targeted in the past locations in both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of course these two gulf countries leading members of this coalition fighting them.

They have the backing of Iran, but over the last couple of weeks, there has been certainly over the last week, a reduction in the level of combat after a severe spike around the town of Hudaydah which is a port city the lifeline really for that part of Yemen, critical to the lives of some 14 million people. There is their route for food coming in, it's held by the Iranian-backed Houthis.

They've dug in very hard but they have been under a very heavy attack, and perhaps this latest response is a reaction to that attack but also moves by the United Nations to try to bring the two sides together at ceasefire, talks perhaps in Sweden later on this month, George.

HOWELL: And, Sam, on the part of Saudi Arabia, how does that play in to their decision given the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, their decision in what comes next with this war?

[03:14:56] KILEY: Well, that's been very interesting indeed. There was an assumption that their level of frustration fell towards Saudi Arabia had reached a critical point with the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

But Jeremy Hunt and the top civil servant from the United Kingdom visited Saudi Arabia last weekend or a little bit before and to propose a ceasefire plan that they going to put towards the U.N. Security Council, and were brushed off really pretty effectively and angrily according to some reports by the Saudis.

So, it's clear that the Saudis are feeling pretty robust at a time when the international community was hoping that perhaps a degree of contrition over what happened to Mr. Khashoggi might be transferred in to an understanding that the world is really pretty scant and horrified by what's going on in the Yemen.

But there are now signs of diplomatic moves in the right direction as far as ceasefire is concerned and they may ultimately lead to talks. There is also an effort by the Saudis to agree the medical evacuation of 50 wounded Houthis which was in the past a block to future talks. George?

HOWELL: Sam Kiley live for us in Abu Dhabi. Thank you for the report.

Israel's government is intact but it may not last much longer. The latest on a cabinet crisis for Israel's prime minister. Still ahead.

Also facing political troubles at home. The British prime minister trying to sell her Brexit plan to her country but it's getting tougher as the exit date is getting closer.


HOWELL: The Israeli government is barely holding together. The prime minister of that nation Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting off calls for an early election after a controversial ceasefire with Hamas. His defense minister has resigned, other cabinet members are threatening to leave.

Mr. Netanyahu says a snap vote right now would be irresponsible.

Following the story live in Jerusalem, CNN's Oren Liebermann on the story. And Oren, there are several pressure points on the Israeli prime minister to save his government, what's the latest at this point?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, in just a few minutes at 10,30 local time, two key ministers the right-wing education ministers and justice minister have their own press conference where it's certainly possible they will announce their own resignation and that would mark the collapse of Prime Minister Netanyahu's coalition.

So that is obviously an eagerly-awaited statement. As that might cap what has been an incredibly turbulent week politically for Netanyahu. The most difficult, the challenging week since the last election in early 2015.

So, we'll be lacking very carefully at what they say, how they say and how the process goes from here.

Late last week, the fight was between Netanyahu and his finance minister, he seemed to manage that one OK, and now it's between Netanyahu and his own education minister who has demanded the defense portfolio after the defense minister resigned last week.

So that brings you this idea of pressure points with a lot of demands being made on Netanyahu and his government. It could be just a few minutes here, the end of Netanyahu's coalition, so we'll certainly keep you posted there.

Meanwhile, the opposition, the main opposition party the Zionist Union as they're known, has announced that they will introduce a no confidence vote against Netanyahu at 4 o'clock this afternoon.

So, they have said that the defense minister's resignation is a sign of the failure of Netanyahu's government. So, all of this puts pressure on Netanyahu. Meanwhile, Netanyahu said in a late-night press conference last night that he will take over the defense portfolio himself.

In that new job which he just assumed he was in the foreign affairs and defense committee this morning he said there it is irresponsible right now to topple a government. It's a sensitive security situation right now that is continuing and he basically called that his coalition partners to stay in the government. We'll see how they respond here in just a few minutes, George.

HOWELL: And the context here is important, Oren. There's a ceasefire with Hamas. Tell us how all of that plays into this. LIEBERMANN: That began what has been an incredibly difficult week

politically for Netanyahu. The ceasefire with Hamas was announced on Tuesday. It wasn't unpopular ceasefires especially among the right wing here and right-wing politicians.

The defense minister announced his own resignation one day later, the education minister who has the press conference in a few minutes, demanded the defense ministry be given to him or said he would withdraw from the government which would topple it.

A day later, two key ministers called for early elections. So, all of that just builds up this pressure on Netanyahu and makes early elections more and more likely.

Meanwhile, images of Hamas celebration the resignation of the defense minister, and certainly if the government collapses here and they celebrate the collapse of the government those images are very damaging to Netanyahu and could play some sort of role in the next elections as Hamas is seen celebrating the political movements of the Israeli government, George.

HOWELL: Oren Liebermann live for us in Jerusalem. Oren, thank you.

Now to the United Kingdom the nation's prime minister standing by her Brexit plan as she faces critical talks in Brussels this week.

Later Monday, Theresa May will try to convince British business leaders to back her Brexit plan. Also, this week, she will meet with the president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Junker in Brussels.

There have been days of political turmoil, including cabinet resignations and widespread criticism but still a defiant Theresa May presses on, saying she is not going to quit.

Let go live to London. CNN's Nina Dos Santos following the story in our London bureau. Nina, Ms. May we've seen making the media rounds, but it seems that more and more she is stuck between a rock and hard place the uphill battle to sell what's been described as an unpopular plan and the European Union which seems less than interested in making any major changes to this deal as it stands presently.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPPONDENT: Good morning to you, George, yes, she's also stuck between the hard Brexit faction in our own party and some very tricky parliamentary arithmetic that doesn't look as though in the current deal system that we have is likely to work in her favor.

As you mentioned over the course of the weekend, she's been embarking upon this charm offensive trying to sell this deal to the broader British public.

On Friday, she was trying to sell it to members of her conservative party rather than just elected members of parliament of her conservative party approving so tricky to convince there. [03:25:06] And throughout the course of today she is going to be trying to sell it to the business community as well. She's about for embark in an hour or two on a big speech to the biggest business lobby in this country, one that is already put a positive spin on this deal. Essentially saying that this is the best we are going to get.

What it's going to do is create at least some certainty for the business community here to shore up jobs and also she's going to say that this will give the U.K. the right to control its border in a way that they will be able to issue visas to people who are skilled for the kind of jobs that are required in this country, that also she is going make the argument will help to make sure that British workers get back on the job ladder as well.

It's expected that this business lobby group is going to back her deal, that will give politicians in her own party food for thought.

What's interesting over the course of the weekend, George, many political commentators will say is that that hard Brexit faction inside her own government that had been tabling letters to the special 1922 back benched committee that could potentially mount to no confidence vote in her if they had the numbers, they needed 48, so far only 20 odd M.P.s have made their letters public.

So, it looks as though for the second time in less than a year, Theresa May has managed to so far hold off the threat of that no confidence in her leadership and she continues to plow on saying this is my deal, it's the best we are going to get from Brussels. George.

HOWELL: But the pressure continues to mount. Nina Dos Santos live for us in London. Thank you.

The U.S. president says that he's answered Robert Mueller's Russia questions himself and he's prepared to hand the questions the answers over. But one question remains, will he sit down with Mueller's team for an interview in the investigation? We'll look at that ahead. Plus, this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said goodbye to my husband. I'm just told him to tell our kids that I loved them. And that I was sorry. I was sorry I wouldn't be there. Wow. It was very, very hard.


HOWELL: The scramble to evacuate a hospital. As California's deadliest wildfire broke out. We'll have that story for you as Newsroom continues.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour. The state of California ravaged by wildfires. A vigil was held Sunday for the victims who died in those fires. At least 80 people have been killed. Hundreds more still unaccounted for. The so-called Camp Fire in the north now about 65 percent contained. The Woolsey Fire in the south almost 90 percent contained.

In a recent interview, the U.S. president indicated we may never know if the Saudi crown prince was lying to him about his involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mr. Trump also says that he won't listen to a recording of the murder because he called it violent and vicious.

U.Houthi militant leader in Yemen says his forces are ready for a ceasefire. This if the Saudi-led coalition wants peace. Mohammed Ali al-Houthi says the Iran-backed militants should end missile and drone attacks. U.S. officials said last month they wanted a ceasefire within 30 days.

The U.S. president sat down for a wide-ranging television interview on Sunday. He answered questions about the special counsel's ongoing Russia investigation and went after a retired navy seal commander who led the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. Our Boris Sanchez has more.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump making news on a multitude of fronts this weekend. First, with an interview on Fox News in which he criticized retired Admiral William McRaven. McRaven previously had criticized President Trump, suggesting that he was unpresidential and saying that the president's comments about the press being the enemy of the people are a threat to democracy.

The president during this interview shot back, saying that McRaven was a Hillary Clinton supporter, a backer of President Barack Obama. The admiral spoke to CNN about this, providing us with a statement, saying that he did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else.

He also said, "I admire all presidents regardless of their political party who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the nation together in challenging times." He went on to say, "when you undermine the people's right to a free press and freedom of speech and expression, then you threaten the constitution and all for which it stands."

The president also talked about the Russia investigation during that interview, revealing that he probably would not sit down for that one- on-one in person testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller, something he said in the past that he was looking forward to. Listen to this portion of the interview.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think we've wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is probably -- we're finished.

WALLACE: What are the odds? One in a hundred? What -- what?

TRUMP: I don't do odds. I gave very detailed --

WALLACE: You ran a casino, sir.

TRUMP: You're right, and very successfully actually.


TRUMP: We gave very, very complete answers to a lot of questions that I shouldn't have even been asked and I think that should solve the problem. I hope it solves the problem. If it doesn't, you know, I'll be told and we'll make a decision at that time. But probably this is the end.


SANCHEZ: Now, President Trump did say that he would be handing over his written responses to Mueller's questions sometime this week, likely before Thanksgiving.

Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.


HOWELL: Boris, thank you. Let's talk more about it now with Natasha Lindstaedt. Natasha, a professor of government at the University of Essex. Thank you for your time.


HOWELL: Let's start with the president's attacks on the retired admiral, William McRaven, casting him in a political lens as a sympathizer of Democrats. This is the architect of the bin Laden raid, a very significant figure, certainly for the United States. Given his background, his reputation, how does an attack like this run the risk of backfiring on the president?

LINDSTAEDT: Right. These attacks are just incredible because I don't think there is really anyone in the country that would have criticism for this commander because to run this operation was incredibly brave and took incredible amounts of planning.

[03:35:07] But this is one of the things about President Trump that are -- that is so interesting. He has had a history of going after the military. Going after gold star families, going after John McCain. And with his base, it doesn't seem to really matter. It would be unheard of for a Republican president or any president to attack the military in a way that he has, but whatever he says, his base actually just doesn't care.

HOWELL: Now to the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump says that he has answered questions from the special counsel himself. He says that he did it without the help of his attorneys. But he's also indicated in this most recent interview that he most likely wouldn't sit down with the Mueller team.

Remember, before, he has said that he would be open to sitting down with Mueller and his team. So, in your view, what is the change of heart? What's the reason for it?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, Trump has been contradicting himself about the whole Mueller probe all the time. On the one hand, he is -- he appears to be incredibly worried about it, constantly tweeting about it and indicating that it's some sort of witch hunt and hoax in order to delegitimize it because he seems to be genuinely worried about what could happen.

On the other hand, he is saying that it was incredibly easy to answer the questions. It was no big deal that he didn't even really need help from his lawyers. But this viewpoint that he doesn't want to be questioned directly, his lawyers have advised him that that would be disasstrous because he could perjure himself.

And so I think he's heeding the advice of his lawyers. In spite of what he's publicly saying about how incredibly easy it was to answer these question, this has been a very tedious process for him to just even answer the written questions. He probably very privately is very worried about it.

HOWELL: Looking ahead now to this coming Tuesday, the president says that he will receive a full report from the CIA, an assessment on the investigation of the murdered journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. We have seen the Saudi story shift several times. Mr. Trump, though, still seems unwilling to reach any conclusions. Does this further push his hand, force his hand, especially when this assessment comes out?

LINDSTAEDT: I don't think it's going to change his mind about what to do. He does not want to rupture the relationship with Saudi Arabia. He has very just strong personal ties with the country and individuals running the country. And he believes that the country, that the United States has very strong military and financial ties to Saudi Arabia.

And I think what he is going to try to do is play it off as if other individuals were responsible for this, and that he doesn't believe the reports coming from the CIA which have been stating basically that the crown prince himself was the one who ordered this horrible murder. And so he may just leave it up to Congress to decide what to do about it.

HOWELL: You know, I would like to ask you one more long lens question here. President Trump pre-midterms and post-midterms, compare the two. We have seen the president since the midterms, we have seen him in Paris, saw him in California, he's spoken out publicly in this interview on the Russia investigation. What changes do you see?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I think post-midterms, President Trump is in a terrible mood. He's incredibly worried about what has just happened with the results in the House. And every day, there seems to be another seat that goes to the Democrats, in that the midterms were an indictment on his presidency thus far. It wasn't this tremendous success that he had originally touted.

So I think he's growing increasingly anxious and when he gets anxious, he starts to whine more, starts to go on the attack more, and then sometimes starts to retreat more. We have seen all of these different types of behaviors taking place since the midterms. I think he's just incredibly worried about the implications of what is going to happen.

HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt, live for us there via Skype, we appreciate your time.

LINDSTAEDT: Thank you.

HOWELL: All right, we were talking about the midterms. Well, we moved past the midterms. A contentious Senate race and recount. Florida will now send a new senator to Washington. Current U.S. Senator Bill Nelson on the right conceded to Republican challenger Rick Scott on Sunday. The margin was just over 10,000 votes.

Now that Florida is settled, here is where things stand in the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives. The democrats have a majority there, 232 seats. The Republicans have 200 seats. Three races still undecided but no matter what happens, that won't swing the ballots' power there.

[03:40:00] In the Senate, Republicans keep their majority, 52 seats. The Democrats have 47. One undecided race in Mississippi. That will decide later this month in a runoff.


HOWELL: After the devastating wildfires that broke out in California this month, one hospital was forced to evacuate its patients. Our affiliate KTXL reports, that spoke with some of the people who managed to get out of these flames.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six-day-old Hallie (ph) is the last baby born at Feather River Hospital. Jus tmoments after she arrived, the Camp Fire began to surround the building.

HEATHER ROEBUCK, CAMP FIRE EVACUEE: It came over the speaker, evacuate the hospital. All patients need to be moved.

TAMARA FERGUSON, NURSE, FEATHER RIVER HOSPITAL: I went to my patient's rooms and I said just grab your baby. We got to go. Just grab your baby. There is no time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the scramble to evacuate, Halle's (ph) 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 she thought would be her last phone call.

ROEBUCK: I said goodbye to my husband and just told him to tell our kids that I loved them and that I was sorry. I was sorry I wouldn't be there. Wow. It was very, very hard.

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

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

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

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

[03:45:03] DAVID HAWKS, PARADISE, CALIFORNIA FIRE CHIEF: There is 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 said, hey, if you -- if you follow directions which is to clear this home of pine needless, we would be safe here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

FERGUSON: And he said, you do this, you do this, you do this. And all of us shifted our minds to what do we need to do for survival mode here.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amid a neighborhood devastated by the Camp Fire, this Chloe Court home survived, so did all of the patients and medical staff inside.

DESIREE BORDEN, CAMP FIRE EVACUEE: I am so happy that that my home was spared so that their lives could be spared. That was that home's purpose, was to save those people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Desiree 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. 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 rhythms for her or for me. I just knew that our story couldn't end that way. We couldn't burn alive in a car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't until one of the nurses sent Desiree a Facebook message that she learned her home was still standing. She had 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 are all here. We are able to talk about this and it's absolutely extraordinary.

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


HOWELL: You can find out of course how to help the victims of the California wildfires at our website, There you will get a list of vetted charities that are helping the people there in need.


HOWELL: Tensions between the United States and China played in to the outcome of this weekend's APEC summit in Papua New Guinea, so much that the annual event ended without a joint communique, the first time in the summit's 25-year history.

China's president, Xi Jinping, defended his country's trade practices and military buildup in the South China Sea. The vice president of the U.S., Mike Pence, also attended the summit and said that his country's trade war with China won't end until Beijing changes its ways.

Let's bring in CNN's Ivan Watson, following the story live in Hong Kong. And again, we saw this rivalry on full display there, Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This was a failure, the first time in a quarter century that consensus was not reached and a routine final joint communique was not published. It is widely attributed because it was of rival visions for the future of trade between the U.S. and China.

And there was also -- there also appear to have been some undiplomatic moment, George, because a source familiar with this incident tells CNN that on Saturday, four Chinese officials barged in, as the source put it, essentially forced their way into the office of Papua New Guinea, the host country, their foreign minister in an attempt to try to influence the joint communique which ultimately was never published.

Now, this is after that foreign minister refused a meeting with these Chinese officials. The Chinese foreign ministry denies that such an intrusion did take place. That was against the backdrop of the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence lobbying thinly veiled criticism and insults at each other's governments and policies. Take a listen to an excerpt from their speeches.


XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator): History tells us to take the road of confrontation. Whether it's in the form of a cold war, open war or trade war, it will produce no winners.

(APPLAUSE) MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Know that the United States offers a better option. We don't drown our partners in a sea of debt, we don't coerce or compromise your independence. The United States deals openly and fairly. We do not offer a constructing belt or a one-way road.


WATSON: This was short criticism from Mike Pence of China's ambitious one belt, one road policy, where it has been lavishing loans of foreign aid for infrastructure projects to countries all around the world. Pence essentially arguing that it is something like a death trap and China's leader called this -- he defended one belt, one road, saying there is no ulterior mode, no hidden agenda behind this policy.

And of course, there is a trade war. Both countries have put tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of each other's good and there is the threat that that number could increase dramatically in January coming from the U.S. There is a possible way out, George, and that is that President Trump and Xi Jinping are due to meet each other face-to-face in Argentina at the G20 meeting. We'll be watching. George?

HOWELL: Listening to those two soundbites, Ivan, back-to-back, we do hear a confrontation. In fact, a message trying to sway nations one way or the other.

WATSON: That's right. They are competing for the favor of countries like Papua New Guinea, small Pacific island countries that have in recent years received a lot of Chinese investment assistance. And Pence brought news that he was going to embark that the U.S. was going to be providing some aid as well to some of these countries.

[03:54:58] Papua New Guinea, for example, a pledge to help build its electricity grid. And another message that was pretty striking, Pence announcing that Australia and the U.S. would be building a military base on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, and that's clearly part of the larger competition on military front between China and the U.S. and their allies over influence and control of the Pacific. George?

HOWELL: Ivan Watson live in Hong Kong, thank you.

And finally this hour, we want to take you inside India's first elephant hospital. This opened up last week in south of New Delhi. Elephants are an endangered species and the hospital uses cutting edge technology including wireless x-ray machines and ultrasound to treat injured and sick or aging elephants.

The nonprofit behind the hospital's rescue of wild animals across the country, of course, activists say elephants are revered in India, but can also be abused or hunted.

Thanks for being with us for CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. Early Start is next for viewers here in the United States. For viewers around the world, my colleague, Max Foster, kicks it off live in London. You are watching CNN, the world's news leader.