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Trump Signals No Strong Action Against Saudi Arabia; Trump Sends Written Answers To Special Counsel; Zuckerberg On Russian Interference On Facebook: I Wish We Understood The Issue Sooner; Trump: U.S. Economy Is "Doing Great"; Dow Sinks 552 Points, Wipes Out Gains For The Year; Fire-Scorched Areas Brace for Heavy Rain; Al-Assad Government Urges Refugees to Return to Syria; Federal Air Marshals Accused of More Than 200 Gun Mishaps. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 21, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Zero sum game, tumbling markets in the U.S. hitting negative territory erasing all gains for 2018 and the selloff has continued across Asia. And we can't go home again, but millions of Syrian refugees are now facing a difficult choice, return to an unstable country or eke out an existence in the grim but relatively safe refugee camps.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us for another hour. I'm John Vause, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, of any critics on both sides of politics, the U.S. President made it clear on Tuesday that he places loyalty and business deals with the Saudi royal family far above America's commitment to human rights. Saudi Arabia has admitted journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered at his consulate in Istanbul. The CIA's intelligence assessment found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorized the hit but as is typical, the agency's report did not and will not make a final definitive conclusion. And for Donald Trump that was all he needed insisting that truth may never be known.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They didn't make a determination. And it's just like I said, I think it was very -- maybe he did, maybe he didn't. They did not make that assessment. The CIA has looked at it, they've studied it a lot, they have nothing definitive. And the fact is, maybe he did, maybe didn't.


VAUSE: Bob Baer is a CNN Intelligence and Security Analyst and former CIA operative. He joins us now from Washington. Thanks for meeting with us, Bob.


VAUSE: OK, there's that old saying, you want a friend in Washington, go out and get yourself a dog. But the Saudis, they've got a whole lot better than that. They've got themselves a president and that's unprecedented.

BAER: Well, John, you know, it's hard to describe how bad this is. The way the Saudis look at, and I have to say this right up front is that they own Donald Trump because of past business relationships. And now we see Trump you know, it's just amazing. I cannot tell you that I have never seen anything like this, to see a president kiss the ring of a monarch like this ever in our history. Clearly, Mohammed bin Salman had Khashoggi murdered, tortured, murdered, and dismembered, a Washington Post columnist. Right now, absolutely refuses to let us in the investigation to let us know what happened. They won't produce the body. They're ignoring us. Their lies change from day today. It's as if you know, Mohammed bin Salman is Trump's boss. And it -- you know, it looks like that at this point. I mean -- yes, go ahead, John.

VAUSE: Yes, the Committee to Protect Journalists posted a tweet in response to the President's statement. It read, if you boil the White House statement down to its essence, President Trump has just asserted that if you do enough business with the U.S. you are free to murder journalists. That's an appalling message to send to Saudi Arabia and the world. On the surface, that kind of seems a pre-fair assessment but the president is wildly exaggerating the size of these deals. The $450 billion worth of investment, that came out of nowhere.

In May last year, the official White House statement described an agreement for almost $110 billion worth of defense capabilities. It goes on to say the package demonstrates the U.S. commitment and our partnership to Saudi Arabia will also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region potentially supporting, potentially supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States.

That is not creating hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs as well. And even you know, even if they the initial $110 billion claim, that's sketchy as well. The Washington Post reported last month most of the items did not have delivery dates or were scheduled for 2022 or beyond. So all these talks of jobs and investment, its fiddling bruising. So for those who buy this argument that American jobs are worth more than your American values, even that doesn't hold up here.

BAER: Well, exactly. I mean, look these arms deals are not booked, so-called booked. They -- that doesn't mean they have to go through with them, they're minuscule, frankly. And Saudi Arabia is producing 10,000 jobs here, I mean, it's just -- it's completely insignificant. But John, right through, he's been lying about Saudi Arabia saying that they're going to turn to the you know, to Russia to buy arms, or China, or you know, what happens if they realign with Russia. They can't realign with Russia.

They can't -- look we are in charge of Saudi Arabia in the sense that the fifth fleet is what keeps the Iranians from taking the Arab side of the Gulf. They have essentially answered us. So for the President to bend over like this is amazing.

VAUSE: Putting aside this current situation with this president, can you see a scenario where a U.S. president in a situation like this would just have to make a decision that because of some other circumstances out there, they have to hold back and not take a hard line with the Saudis?

[01:05:10] BAER: It never happened before. Look, there's a lot of countries that violate human rights internally but never torturing and dismembering an American columnist. This is -- this is what crosses the line. An American resident with American children and saying well, you know, come on, he's -- and then John, but he lied about his being a Muslim brother and describing Khashoggi as an enemy of the state. That's coming from the alt-right. This is their argument that he was somehow connected with bin Laden.

Well, in those days, bin Laden was on the CIA's payroll. He was in a war on our side. And so was Khashoggi shows up as a journalist, but he's not a much -- it's an -- it's an utter lie. And then -- and then to go on, I'm sorry about the rant, is to go on and talk about that Saudi Arabia's somehow going to do something against Iran and if it weren't for Saudi Arabia the Iranians would I don't know what. But that's just nonsense. And the fact that he has taken the side of the alt-right on the assessment of this against the CIA who's quite 100 percent certain it was Mohammed bin Salman that had Khashoggi murdered is amazing. I mean it's just like -- it's like taking sides with Putin over the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community. But who does --

VAUSE: Which has happened before.

BAER: -- yes, who does he work for? And what bothers me is both the Russians and the-- and the Saudis you know, floated him in hard times. He's essentially a business partner with these people and he's siding with them over Americans.

VAUSE: OK. I'm just trying to find a best-case scenario here. Could it be looking at this in the most positive light possible, you know, that this is this is some kind of strategy that Trump now has leverage over the crown prince in some way, it was a more likely that by giving him this pass Trump is emboldened Saudi Arabia and other countries to do whatever they want because the U.S. looks weak?

BAER: Look, the way that Mohammad bin -- the way that Mohammad bin Salman looks at this is that he owns Trump because the Saudi investments in Trump properties. It's not exactly true but there -- this will embolden them and there's no reason that they won't even go farther and take any sort of American journalist or American and do the same thing to. And what message -- I mean, look you have to look at this in context because Trump has essentially looked at you know, at attempt on Skripals in Salisbury and given the Russians to pass.

Now, he's giving the Saudis to pass on a -- on a you know, targeted killing so yes, exactly. This is -- you know, it's open season on you know, frankly Americans at this point.

VAUSE: Yes, that statement released from the White House, it quotes the President as saying our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information but it could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event. Maybe he did and maybe he didn't. It's a bit like reality T.V. Here's the report, you decide. As someone who's worked in the field collecting intelligence, is there anything more frustrating, more disappointing than a president who continues to doubt the validity and the veracity of your work?

BAER: Well, frankly, I've never seen a president dismiss facts so easily as Trump when it served his interests. It doesn't happen. When a president is presented with a piece of intelligence, he's got to go with it. He accounts for it. Especially when the CIA's there's a high degree of confidence that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Khashoggi, that is -- they did -- they did not equivocate.

Look, did they have audio in the crown prince's office and hear him order this? No, that's -- that never happens. And you know, John, I'm sorry about going on this is one lie after another saying that the Iranians are committing terrorism. Yes, they committed terrorism in the 80s, but right now they're acting as a normal state power. We may not like what they're doing but they're not out murdering people. There's just no evidence for it.

Not like the Saudis and it's just as we've forgiven the Saudis for their participation in 9/11, the 9/11 Commission report said at some level in Saudi Arabia someone was -- knew this was coming down 9/11. The Saudis never cooperated and told us who and we just let that pass. You know, the famous 21 pages. And so, again and again, we're giving them a green light to do what they want.

VAUSE: Yes. And you know, that was the Bush administration. Now here with Donald Trump giving them a green light again with friends like these, I guess. Bob, thank you.

BAER: Thank you.

VAUSE: Live now from Istanbul, Jomana Karadsheh is with us again this hour. So Jomana, well, the Saudis may have been expecting the U.S. President to stand by the Crown Prince. After all, Trump described the kingdom as a great ally. Where does this lead for Turkey? What are the options here for Ankara if it wants to ensure this is not the final word in Khashoggi's murder?

[01:10:16] JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a big question. We're going to have to wait and see. You know, the Foreign Minister was in Washington D.C. He met with Secretary Pompeo yesterday but at that point, he said he hadn't seen the President's statement yet so we'll have to wait and see what their official reaction is. But John, if you look at these two countries, these are two regional powers, they've had their differences, they've had a rocky relationship between President Erdogan and Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

So since this crisis began, they've really -- Turkey has tried to avoid any sort of direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia. President Erdogan who usually doesn't hesitate to speak his mind has been quite diplomatic about it even though he said that he believes this killing of Jamal Khashoggi was not a rogue operation as Saudi claims, he's not directed any accusations at the Crown Prince, specifically not naming him. He said it came from the highest levels of the Saudi government, but went on to say that it was not King Salman. So people took this to mean that he is hinting that this was ordered by the Crown Prince. Now, we're going to have to wait and see. So far I think the approach

has been they've been hoping that their ally, the United States, their Western allies who they've shared evidence with would really take the lead here and deal with the Saudi site and that hasn't happened. So we have to wait and see what they're going to do. The ball is back in the court of Turkey and President Erdogan. Is there more evidence they're going to release? Anything else they'll be able to share to keep up the pressure, something they've been doing with this drip feed of leaks.

When it comes to their position on this investigation, John, pretty much they've reached a standstill with the investigation because they've had two main questions that they say are pretty straightforward questions that they've put forward to the Saudis and they've not received answers and that is where is the body or the remains of Jamal Khashoggi and who ordered the killing. They are absolutely not convinced that this was a rogue operation. They have not received the answers to that. So the feeling and we've heard this statement from Turkish officials in recent days, they feel that the time has come now for an international investigation because they do not believe that the Saudis are capable of a credible and transparent investigation, John.

VAUSE: Jomana, thank you. Jomana Karadsheh there live for us in Istanbul. And we're learning new details about Donald Trump's efforts to punish his former presidential opponent Hillary Clinton. New York Times reports Trump wanted the Justice Department to prosecute Clinton as well as the former FBI Director James Comey. But White House Counsel warned that could lead to impeachment. A source tells CNN the President has also repeatedly asked for updates on the investigations into Hillary Clinton.

Meantime, the Russia investigation, the ball is now in the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's court. President Trump says he's turned over his answers to questions about possible collusion through the 2016 campaign. CNN's Kara Scannell reports.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A step toward ending the Russia investigation, President Donald Trump on Tuesday submitting written answers to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The response ends months of negotiations and could signal that the inquiry is nearing an end. Rudy Giuliani, one of the President's attorneys issued a statement Tuesday saying it has been our position from the outset that much of what has been asked raise serious constitutional issues and was beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry. This remains our position today. The President has nonetheless provided unprecedented cooperation, the special counsel has been provided with more than 30 witnesses, 1.4 million pages of material, and now the President's written responses to questions. It is time to bring this inquiry to a conclusion.

Now, the questions were focused on whether anyone with the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to interfere in the election. Notably, Trump's attorneys refused to respond to questions relating to possible obstruction of justice such as the firing a former FBI director James Comey. Now, it remains to be seen whether Trump's responses will satisfy Mueller's inquiry. The special counsel's team could respond with follow-up quest or this could lead to a subpoena of the President, something that would lead to a protracted legal battle, a battle that could delay the end of the Mueller investigation. Kara Scannell, CNN Washington.

VAUSE: Facebook may want to unlike 2018, a year we saw accusations of enabling fake news and Russian election meddling, there being security and privacy breaches. The company's stock is taking a beating. Somehow CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to insist Facebook is moving in the right direction. CNN's Laurie Segall sat down for an exclusive interview with Zuckerberg.


[01:14:59] LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Did you and other leaders try to minimize Russia's role in spreading propaganda on the platform?

ZUCKERBERG: No. Look, here -- here's what's what happened. In 2016, there is no doubt that we missed something really important, right? The Russian effort to try to have these coordinated information operations on Facebook, and also the Internet more broadly was not something that we were expecting.

Elections are always a very high security event, and we were expecting certain kinds of cyber-attacks, and we found them, right? The Russians were trying to hack into specific accounts, and we told the people, and we told the FBI, and all that. But we weren't on top of these coordinated information operations.

So, we've spent a lot of the last couple of years now basically building up our systems and strengthening them to be able to address this. But we've been very focused on this, and invested a lot in it. And anyone who wants to say that upon learning about this, we haven't been very focused on trying to both address it.

And also, that we have -- I think anyone who says that we haven't made a lot of progress, I'm -- I just think that that's not right.

SEGALL: I think the folks talk about transparency, though. You know, this idea that the former chief security officer wanted to publish a transparency paper, and every mention of Russia was taken out. He was encouraged not to put Russia in that transparency paper.

Do you regret not being more transparent at the time we're not getting -- you know, not being more vocal about it at the time?

ZUCKERBERG: You know, I wish that we understood the issues sooner, right. I wish we understood it before 2016, before the Russians tried to do these information operations in the first place.

Now, I do think sometimes people say, "Well, how did you not know this? And -- you know, I think in some of these cases, you know, it's a really big deal to come out and say that a nation-state is behind something.

And before our company puts a stamp on something saying that, I want to be really sure that that's the case.


VAUSE: Interpol could be facing a moment of truth or possibly a fatal moment, according to some critics. With the International police body set to hand its leadership over to a man who's unashamedly a close ally of Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Western governments fear the Kremlin could then use Interpol to undermine the rule of law around the world, in particular by issuing arrest warrants for critics of President Putin. CNN's Matthew Chance reports now from Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's become a tool for the Kremlin to target its opponents abroad. A way of quashing dissent at home. Even the Russian environmental campaigner who organized these protests against building a highway through a protected forest was singled out for an Interpol Red Notice at Moscow's request.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came to Spain to spend my vacations and I just normally arrived in the airport, checked into in a cheap hostel. And the next morning, 5:00 a.m. The door opened and a squad of anti- terrorist police rushed in, and called my name.

CHANCE: Others from political dissidents to out of favor businessman have also been targeted by Russia with the closest thing Interpol has to an International arrest warrant. An abuse, say critics, of the Interpol system.

Yet, this is the man, and I tips to be elected its next president. Alexander Prokopchuk, he's Moscow's senior-most Interpol official, and could be elected as early as this week to the top job.

It would be an extraordinary coup for the Kremlin accused of flagrant disregard for International law. From the use of chemical weapons on the streets of Britain, to election meddling in the United States.

In an open letter, a group of U.S. Senators, say the election of a Russian would be like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse. The Kremlin, says that selection meddling by the United States accusing the accuser has become a favorite tactic of the Russian state.


CHANCE: U.S. born businessman, Bill Browder, has himself been victim of that. Repeatedly targeted by Interpol Red Notices. His lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in Russian custody in 2009, and the financier turned Kremlin critic has campaigned hard to punish those responsible.

If a Russian now becomes the head of Interpol, he says, new rules to prevent Russian abuses must be imposed. BROWDER: Or if that's not possible, then, it may be time to create a law enforcement -- International law enforcement body that just consists of countries that abide by the rule of law.

CHANCE: And perhaps that don't use it as a legal means of persecuting their critics abroad. Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: Well, the big sell-off continues on Wall Street and spreads to Asian markets. Is this a trump slump? Ahead, how low can it go and for how long?


[01:22:29] VAUSE: Well, Asian markets are down slightly red across the board after a wipeout on Wall Street, Tuesday. And this man's face here that just tells a story. Investors drove all three U.S. markets sharply lower over concerns that the global economy could be slowing. The result all gains made this year have now been wiped out.

Here the closing numbers. The Dow, dropped 551 points. It's about 2.2 percent. Tech stocks, particularly, Apple led the fall dead, down 4 3/4 percent. Retail, energy stocks, and oil prices also plunged. The NASDAQ and the S&P, both were down more than a point and a half.

So, what's driving this race into negative territory? Alison Kosik reports is all about tech traded tariffs.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: All of the major indices have wiped out their gains for the year. It's a headline that's undercutting investor confidence and set the negative tone in the market.

Tech stocks drag the market lower. Ironic, since it was tech shares like Facebook, Apple, and Google that powered the market to record highs over the last few years. But now, it looks like the darlings of yesterday have turned into the dogs of today.

Facebook and Apple shares getting crushed. Both stocks are down more than 20 percent from their recent highs. Investors can't seem to sell tech shares fast enough.

Facebook is dealing with the fallout from how it handled foreign influence in the 2016 presidential election. And Apple is facing slowing demand for its marquee product, the iPhone. Investors are also (INAUDIBLE) because there's a possibility for a regulatory crackdown that could change the way certain tech companies do business, and cost them more money.

Also weighing on sentiment trade tensions ramping up over the weekend, there was a collapse of preliminary meetings between the U.S. and China, two weeks before President Xi and President Trump are expected to meet. But the thinking is, the issue won't be resolved.

And that's as President Trump is ready to impose a third round of tariffs on $267 billion worth of Chinese goods. And some tariffs already in place are set to increase from 10 percent to 25 percent on January 1st. If those go into effect, that could eat into company profit, and possibly rattle the markets even more. Back to you.

VAUSE: Joining me now from Los Angeles, Global Business executive, Ryan Patel. Ryan, good to see you.


VAUSE: OK. I'm about to play three short clips from three different songs. A little country, a little folk, a little bit of rock and roll, at the end of that, I want you to choose which one describes where we're at right now with stocks.

OK, the first is a recent remake of a 1972 Tammy Wynette, hit. Here it is.

[01:25:05] DAVID LEE MURPHY, SINGER AND SONGWRITER: Everything is going to be all right. Everything is going to be all right.

PATEL: Speechless.

VAUSE: Ok, next stop, we've got an oldie but a Goldie. Here it is.

PAUL SIMON, SINGER-SONGWRITER AND ACTOR: Slip-sliding away, Slip- sliding away.

PATEL: Am I supposed to dance this on over?

VAUSE: Yes. This crew wrong. OK, finally, rock and roll, a classic from the late 80's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the end of the world.

VAUSE: Ok. So, answer is it A, Everything's Going To Be All Right by David Lee Murphy and Kenny Chesney. Or B, Paul Simon's Slip Sliding Away. Or C, R.E.M.'s It's the End of the World. Your answer is what and why?

PATEL: Can it be A and B, in between? It's definitely not C. And to see here to say -- I mean, I'm not going to sit here like many people say. Well, everything is going to be OK. I think there is going to be -- we saw that, we -- this was going to happen, this -- you know, correction.

And that -- you know these are multiple variables. You know, and then, what's changed today, what's change from our conversation last month is expectations. So, what I mean by that is expectations of what's going to happen next year.

We know that the economy was going to be a little bit slow for the U.S. But now, these analysts are taking it back down. They are seeing now the actual cost for supply chains margins. And our baking in this little trade war that we are currently in.

And this is where this confidence -- investor confidence is starting today. I think, you know, we've been talking about for months but this announced reports for especially for the top Apple, and Google, and Facebook, this is where it hit.

VAUSE: OK. Have all the effect is because a lot here weighing stocks down. you mentioned a couple of issues, but there's raising interest rates, the impact of tariffs, the US-China trade war, there's a fading sugar rush from that debt fueled corporate tax cut looming into these -- you know, company profits some.

Does anything stand out in particular, or all just more of a cumulative effect?

PATEL: You know, it's a cumulative effect. But you know, I'm going to say this, and I will not going to say this lightly. This trade war piece is really I think is the kicker in this. You know, what has changed over the last 3-4 months as been, well, we're not going to get to this point, we're not going to really -- you know, there is going to be a deal.

Well, guess what? Earnings calls saw the effects. You thought -- you know, multiple businesses you including target, and these other places are down in earnings. And it is starting to -- this is where the -- and like I said, expectations are getting these investors scared.

And then, when they're looking at this, with the interest rates kind of increasing. They're looking were where I'm going to put my money now? Do I want to take it off and take the gains?

And any other second part is this realistic piece of getting -- I don't know where, what happened. 10 percent, 12 percent returns a year, I think we're spoiled over the last few years. You know -- you know, I think we're really, so, we should be targeting anywhere from four to five percent, you should be happy.

But, you know, we live in the age where these tech stocks were really kind of driving the revenue.

VAUSE: And with the tech stocks, this really stood out. CNN Business is reporting, "All told, the collective market value of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Alphabet," which is Google. "Apple and Microsoft has declined by more than $1.1 trillion."

So, why in particular, this stocks being hit so high? And it was incredible, it was just a couple of weeks ago, we're talking about you know, Apple being this trillion dollar company, and you're seeing no end to the rise.

PATEL: Yes, you know and it doesn't really -- I mean, they've raised -- they've rise so fast. That's why I'm not as worried when it comes to what they've lost. You know, recently, the $1 trillion is no joke that's a lot of -- a lot of money. But these tech stocks were at a pace that we've never seen at valuation wise.

So, yes. They've came down and you pick on Amazon for a second. Amazon also knows they're not -- you know, they're now -- you know, looking bit for media companies. They know they have to diversify their portfolio.

And that's where you're seeing some of these top brands starting to do and companies do so. You know, I don't see them sitting back and saying everything's OK, behind that.

VAUSE: You know, after claiming credit for the surging stock market, the U.S. President Donald Trump has taken responsibility for the recent declines -- just kidding.

Of course, he blames someone else. Here he is.


TRUMP: I think we're doing great. I mean, as a country, we're doing great. Our unemployment is at a record-low. You look at all of the different statistics, I think your tech stocks have some problems, but that'll come back.

But, no, I think we're going to do very well I'd like to see the Fed with a lower interest rate. I think the rate is too high. I think we have much more of a Fed problem than we have a problem with anyone else.


VAUSE: Fed problem. OK, finish this sentence. If the economy is doing great, and interest rates are cut, the end result is?

PATEL: Just joking. He didn't mean all that.

VAUSE: Do we get hyperinflation?

PATEL: Well, yes. I mean, I think, you know, truthfully, I think he knows. I mean, I don't look that rhetoric. He knows that this is -- this is going to be a problem. And going into the meeting with G20, with China's president, they need to have some kind of positivity of some kind of meeting.

Because imagine that they do not come to terms or even come away with any kind of framework, this will cause a market to go even further spiral.

[01:29:49] RYAN PATEL, GLOBAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: Well yes. I mean I think -- you know, truthfully, I think he knows. I mean I don't if that rhetoric -- he knows that this is -- this is going to be a problem.

And going into the meeting in G-20 with China's president they need to have some kind of positivity of some kind meeting. Because imagine that they do not come to terms or even come away with any kind of framework, this will cause the market to go -- even further spiral.

So, you know, the market needs some kind of positive news and that is where he's going to be able to get it right there. So, you know, I know he's saying this rhetoric. But you know you get in the back of his mind and his advisors telling him, how do you get this market back to where there's some confidence?

And it's not about just blaming the Fed. I mean the Fed -- you know, there is an argument that the Fed should have increased the rates earlier. So you know, now if you increase -- if you postpone it to cause even more struggles to the market.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: And this isn't even going to be a G-20 meeting; it's going to be the meeting between Trump and Xi. And the White House says at this point, this is the game plan. He's just going to go there and see what happens. Right.

PATEL: Right.

VAUSE: Thank you.

PATEL: Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Good to see you -- mate. Cheers.

Well first, came the wildfires. Now California is bracing for the floods while the search continue.


VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

U.S. President Trump says he'll remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia. The strongest sign yet he'll take no real action against the Kingdom for the death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The CIA's intelligence assessment found Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the killing. But Mr. Trump says maybe the Crown Prince knew about it and maybe he didn't.

Another brutal day on Wall Street has wiped out the U.S. stock market gains for the year. The Dow fell more than 550 points, or 2.2 percent. Retailers including Target and Kohl's break down the S&P. And Tech stocks like Apple, Amazon and Facebook sent the Nasdaq down (ph) as well.

Donald Trump, apparently wanted the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton but was warned against it by White House counsel. A source tells CNN the President has also repeatedly asked for progress reports on investigations into his former presidential opponent.

Fire crews in California have made significant progress containing the state's most destructive and deadliest fires. But even so the death toll continues to rise. Eighty-four people now confirmed dead, most died in the so-called Camp Fire in the state's north. More than two weeks after that started, 870 people remain missing. To the south, the Woolsey Fire is now almost fully contained.

But now parts of the state are under a flash flood watch. Heavy rain could also bring mudslides making conditions even worse for firefighters and the thousands left homeless.

CNN's Nick Watt reports now from northern California.


[01:34:56] NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This deadly destruct blaze now 70 percent contained but these people, many who have already lost everything, not out of danger.

Torrential rain is coming. A flash flood watch in effect from tomorrow afternoon through Thanksgiving into Friday morning. And this tent city in the Chico Walmart parking lot is in a flood zone.

CASEY HATCHER: What we really want people to do as the rain approaches and the weather starts to shift is get inside.

WATT: There is plenty of space in evacuation shelters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to be here as long as we need to be here. We could be in the sheltering business through Christmas.

WATT: Some are scared to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the germs -- the norovirus going around? I'm scared because we already got that one. So we got over it.

WATT: More than a hundred had been hospitalized by the gastrointestinal bug. Others were moved to isolation blocks within the shelters. Many evacuees plan to ride out the rain out here in the open.

CYNTHIA SMITH, EVACUEE: So we're getting tarps and stuff like that. It is rough but we're making do.

WATT: Down in Los Angeles and Ventura County where the Woolsey Fire burned authorities also warning of mudslides on hillsides stripped bare by that blaze and potential debris flow as rains approach.

Free sandbags now available from forest stations. Some people will likely be evacuated from their homes once again. There is also concern up here at the Camp Fire site that rains could hamper the search for the dead, even wash away human remains or make them indistinguishable from the mud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go as hard as we can, long as we can until we can't go anymore. That's what's going to happen

WATT (on camera): And the official tally of the number of homes destroyed -- that left about 1,000 in just the past 24 hours. That number is going up as search teams make it into more and more neighborhoods. You can tell that they were in this neighborhood today, that's today's date 11/20 spray-painted on the driveway.

When they come through a neighborhood, they will often first go to homes with a car in the driveway because that's a sign that maybe someone didn't make it out alive. Nick Watt, CNN -- Paradise, California.


VAUSE: And we now have the latest numbers that the Camp Fire is 75 percent contained right now.

Let's turn now to meteorologist Ivan Cabrera with the very latest on the conditions there in California. And of course, everyone is now waiting for the heavy rains to come.

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Which haven't arrived yet and think they're arriving Wednesday -- John. 75 percent containment and that was not with Mother Nature's help. That was all firefighting efforts.

Of course, winds have subsided but they basically would have gotten this under control without any rainfall. And we do have rainfall on the way and that's going to present a different problem, an additional threat for California.

As a result of all this Pacific moisture, it is just going to come in too fast and too furious. And in fact, we're going to continue to see bands of heavy rains throughout the remainder of the week.

Look at this. One band moves in late Wednesday into Thursday. More heavy rain on the way for Friday and even into the upcoming weekend, finally subsiding by the time we get into Sunday.

But by the time all this moves out of the way, what are we talking about? Well, we're talking about the kinds of rains we haven't seen in quite some time here in California -- upwards of 128 millimeters, that's where Paradise, that's where the Camp Fire was. And that is where we have a lot of burnt scars there.

And so that water is going to come down and it is going to provide us with this additional threat. Not just the flash flooding from the rain but also mudslides and then the debris flow as folks here are all too familiar with. And that could cause significant issues. This is all basically for the northern part of California over the next few days.

There is the forecast with plenty of rainfall. We're going to continue to see that right through Friday and then beginning to see a little bit less so as we head through the day on Saturday and especially heading into Sunday.

So let's talk about the fire and the rain because that's what we have to contend with over the next few days. And I'll tell you what.

As we take you into I think especially Wednesday late and into Thursday and Friday, the fires are going to be mainly out. The concern is now, you don't have that topsoil. You don't have the vegetation that could absorb the rainfall here.

So what's going to happen? Water is going to fall on that scorched land, right -- that burnt soil and that's going to just mix in with some ash as well. And once that heavy rain moves in because of the topography, we're going to have the mud flows but at that angle, you're going to have the foot hills that get into some perilous danger here as a result of all this coming down the mountain side here.

So we had reports of people kind of huddled around the foot hills there that have been moved out of the way because of this threat that I think is going to be quite significant by Wednesday and especially into Friday when all that rain begins to move in.

So too much too soon. We wanted some rainfall but not like this. And it looks like it's coming in pretty quickly -- John.

VAUSE: Not much, do you think, for there. Ivan -- thank you.

Still to California and the fires. There were some dramatic moments during a helicopter rescue. Two Fire Department pilots surrounded by smoke, running low on fuel. There are just moments to spare. Take a listen to this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Low on fuel. I'm going to keep the door open. I'm going to go run out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok. All right. Godspeed.


Are we ok now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're clear now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. That was close.



VAUSE: Did you see, right there -- three people and their two dogs all made it out safely.

Still to come here -- a choice between hope for a better future in an unstable country or a miserable life in relative safety. With the war in Syria winding down and the government urging their return, millions of refugees are now weighing their options.


VAUSE: With Syria's civil war winding down and President Bashar al Assad now controlling more than 60 percent of the country, his government is ratcheting up calls to millions of refugees to come home. Just last month at the U.N. Syria's foreign minister claimed the country had become more safe and secure. "All conditions are now present for the voluntary return of Syrian

refugees to the country," he told the General Assembly, "adding the return of every Syrian refugee is a priority for the Syrian State. Doors are open all Syrians abroad to return voluntarily and safely."

According to multiple reports, the Russian military says nearly 270,000 refugees have returned home in recent months. Well, that's just a fraction of an estimated 5.6 million Syrians who fled the country during seven years of violence. there continues to be a slow and steady number making that journey back.

But it is a difficult choice. Leave behind the relative safety of a refugee camp where a daily (INAUDIBLE) can be harsh and grim or risk returning to an unstable country where one day they could be the promise of hope for a better future especially for a generation of children who have known nothing but war.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are young. We're refugees. We're girls. I know that.

But despite all this (INAUDIBLE) because we're refugees.


VAUSE: Joining us now from New York is Samantha Vinograd, CNN national security analyst and foremost top aide to the national security advisor in the Obama administration. Samantha -- you've just returned from the Zaatari camp in Jordan, home to about 80,000 Syrian refugees. This is where you met that girl who we just heard from.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Exactly. I visited the camp a few days last week and was really struck by how excited these children are to just be children.

[01:45:04] I've worked with UNICEF for several years now and in the camp and in other camps around Jordan and around the world UNICEF is trying to give these kids, what kids all around the world want. They want to go to school. They want healthcare. They want to play soccer. They want to play with their friends.

But the problem is and what is most impactful for me coming out of the trip is these children are being children but their parents are watching them play every day knowing that their future is so uncertain, if they stay in the refugee camps and if they stay in Jordan.

And several such parents said to me that they're considering returning to Syria fully knowing the risk, solely so that they can give their children some kind of hope for a future that involves working and going to university and having a more normal adulthood. Despite the security risk so many families are thinking of going back.

VAUSE: This has to be such an incredibly difficult choice for a parent to make. You know, you go back they don't have a lot of faith in Bashar al Assad but then what they've been telling you is that they actually, you know, have some -- some sort of belief that maybe Russian and Vladimir Putin can guarantee their safety.

VINOGRAD: I think that there is a firm recognition that Vladimir Putin is encouraging Assad to do many things. There was a delivery, thank God, of humanitarian assistance to a horrific area known as the berm between Jordan and Syria.

It is a no-man's-land where thousands of Syrian refugees are living with no food, no water, no clothes and brutal conditions. UNICEF tries to get there but it's having difficulties. But Putin helped broker agreements for goods to go from Damascus to the berm with Assad.

And so the refugees are hearing these kind of stories and thinking, well, if Putin is really calling the shots here and he's saying that it is safe for us to go back. If we have his security guarantee, maybe it is ok for us to go back and risk our children's safety.

VAUSE: Just clinging to any hope, I guess. You know, these camps, a school (ph) in Jordan and the U.N. have been struggling with this financial burden for years and it seems the conditions are only going to go from bad to worse. That's usually a really big factor here for many of these families when they make this decision.

VINOGRAD: Exactly. In the camp I was in one of the four refugee camps in Jordan but only about 90 percent of Syrian refugees live in the camp. They're also spread throughout the country. And there was a lot of funding from Gulf countries, for example, at the beginning.

I visited a school funded by the Bahrainis, passed by another one that was initially funded by the Saudis. But that initial funding to build the schools have gone away. And when you look at organizations like UNICEF or other partners, they're now engaged in programs to just keep these kids in school, healthy and fed. And that's going to require a lot more money. And that money is not going to come from the government of Jordan.

That has to come from private donors and from countries in a time when the U.S. government for example is trying to cut its development assistance and not ramp it up.

VAUSE: How do the kids feel about possibly heading back to a country that either they've never known or the only memories they have, you know, are violence and war?

VINOGRAD: Well, so many of them were actually born in the camps. The camps that I was in -- that I was in there are 80 births every week. There's a very high fertility rate in the camps.

So based upon how long the war has been going on, most of the children that I interacted with have no memory of Syria. The older children are really engrossed in life in the camps and going to school and therapy and all those other activities.

So they're really just trying to focus on their day-to-day. It's really the parents that are grappling with these decisions, knowing the risks on either side. And I think acting like parents do can anywhere around the world trying to let their kids be kids while they make decisions that will impact their children's future.

VAUSE: You know, there's also just the simple practicalities of actually leaving Jordan, trying to get out of that country. Some have passports. Many don't. Some fled without any documentation. So just trying to leave Jordan and head back into Syria, that in itself is not exactly easy.

VINOGRAD: It is not easy. And from what I was told, if they make the decision to leave Jordan, to cross back into Syria, I don't think that the Jordanian government will take them back. So it's literally all or nothing.

If they decide to go, they are giving away their chances of coming back into a refugee camp, of crossing that the border again and really placing all of their eggs in one basket. And that basket is Assad and Vladimir Putin which as we discussed is incredibly insecure.

And we should also note, the rate of resettlement out of Jordan has basically dried up. So the choices really are quite binary. Stay in Jordan and know that your children are going to face a very uncertain future and may spend their entire lives in the camps like Palestinian children are facing, you know, 40 years after their relatives first got there or risk going back into Syria for the rest of their lives and facing the violence there that may not end any time soon.

[01:50:04] VAUSE: Wow. Yes. And again, you know, this is a country where half the population are displaced either internally or they fled to another country. And this civil war, I should say, the violence continues even though it is winding down.

Samantha -- thank you. Appreciate it.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

VAUSE: Police in Kenya are searching for a 23-year-old Italian aid worker abducted by a gang at gun point. It happened in the coastal city of Kalisi (ph). Police say as the gunmen made off with their hostage, they fired at bystanders and several were left wounded.

Well, at least 50 people have been killed, another 82 wounded in a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital. The target was a large wedding hall in Kabul being used to host a meeting of religious scholars celebrating the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. So far no claims of responsibility.

According to the U.N., the first half of 2018 has seen a surge in the number of civilians that have been killed -- almost 1,700 have died, the highest number over any six-month period in the last ten years.

Well, they're meant to be a safe, reassuring presence on domestic flights in the U.S. but maybe, maybe someone should take the guns away from the air marshals just for their own protection. Details next.


VAUSE: You know, days after the terror attacks on 9/11, the U.S. government moved to secure the safety of air travel by placing air marshals on random flights. It turns out they're the gang who couldn't shoot straight. One accidentally shot himself in the foot, another turned up drunk to weapons training, while 200 similar cases have been reported over the past 12 years.

Here's CNN's Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These documents released to CNN through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal more than 200 cases of alleged of misconduct by federal air marshals involving firearms.

Men and women supposedly well-trained to use their weapons in one of the most dangerous environments. Misplacing, misfiring, even accidentally not so accidentally shooting themselves. Documents released to CNN include 19 accidental discharges, including an air marshal who caused gunshot wound to his right foot, another accidentally discharged his firearm in a hotel room hitting a television in the adjoining room.

More than 70 cases of air marshals losing weapons. Three times air marshals have they left their service weapons in an airplane's bathrooms. They've left weapons in restrooms, bars, even a Bed, Bath and Beyond in New Jersey. In at least 13 cases alcohol was involved.

After releasing the documents, the Federal Air Marshal Service invited CNN to the Air Marshal Training Academy outside Atlantic City, New Jersey where new air marshals are taught how to handle their weapons and top instructor Daniel Kowal (ph) admitted the reports are embarrassing.

DANIEL KOWAL, SUPERVISORY AIR MARSHAL: We look at what was the underlying cause, what happened? Where, if and when training failed how and why did it fail? How do we plug that gap? How do we fix that?

Our goal as the training department is to try to (INAUDIBLE).

GRIFFIN: It is hard to compare if air marshals are more or less dangerous with weapons than other law enforcement agencies because the number of air marshals is classified. But former air marshals tell CNN any mishap is unacceptable because their agents operate at 34,000 feet.

HENRY PRESTON, FORMER AIR MARSHAL TRAINING INSTRUCTOR: There's no back-up. You have got to take care of business. And you got to do it very quickly and efficiently.

[01:49:57] GRIFFIN: Henry Preston, who spent 10 years in the service, says he observed the decline in weapons training and practice year by year. And inconsistency he said that could contribute to mistakes. PRESTON: They need additional training. There's no doubt -- no doubt about it.

GRIFFIN: Oddly, three of the apparent mishaps occurred during firearms training. In one case, an instructor allegedly threw training bullets called simunition into an open flame. They exploded and one staff member was struck in the face by flying debris.

Problems are nothing new to the controversial Air Marshal Service. CNN has previously reported agents have continually complained about low morale, low staffing, grueling hours. A 2012 sleep study obtained by CNN shows 75 percent of domestic air marshals were flying while sleep-deficient. That study found that lack of sleep puts them at greater incidents of serious errors.

Critics question if air marshals are even necessary. Last year the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general slammed the Air Marshal Service and said its contribution to aviation transportation security is questionable.

Ohio State professor John Mueller who studies the efficiencies of security measures says the near $1 billion agency is almost worthless.

JOHN MUELLER, OHIO STATE PROFESSOR: Federal air marshals simply don't pass muster in terms of cause and effect analysis. They deliver about 5 cents or maybe 10 cents of benefit for every dollar that's spent on them.

GRIFFIN: And now the revelation that at least 200 cases where agents made dangerous mistakes is yet another strike against the Federal Air Marshal program.

The TSA tells us air marshals are trained to the highest standards the problem is many air marshals we've been talking with disagree with that. And even the government's own accountability office reported that in 2016, the TSA was not doing enough recordkeeping to even tell that its air marshals were being trained properly. The TSA insists that's all fixed now.

Drew Griffin, CNN -- Atlanta.


VAUSE: You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for the company. I'm John Vause.

Bianca Nobilo takes over for me. She'll be in London right after this.

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