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Tribe Kills American Illegally Visiting Remote Island; Climate Report Release Moved Up from December to Black Friday; Government Climate Report Released Early, in Middle of Holiday Weekend; Comey Vows to "Resist" House GOP Subpoena; Tiger and Phil Open Up ahead of "The Match". Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 23, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00]

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: So the questions have been raised, but as well alongside an acknowledgment of the tragedy and now all the attention on the search and rescue operation to work out where this happened and hopefully recover the body as soon as possible. Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very sad for Chau and his family. Nikhil Kumar thanks very much.

A new climate report is coming out today, weeks earlier than originally planned. But why release it in the middle of a holiday weekend? An award-winning climate scientist will join us for this discussion next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:35:07] SCIUTTO: Almost 1 million people are under flash flood watch in Northern California as heavy rains are expected through the day just adding to the misery there. The rain good for putting out the flames at least from the deadly Camp Fire which has claimed 83 lives so far. It's 95 percent contained. But the rain also brings a slew of other problems, flooding, mudslides, the flow of debris. Sacramento's fire captain told CNN's affiliate, KTXL, the weather also makes the ground unstable for firefighters. They don't need more danger to face there up in the hills.

A government report on the human impact of climate change is coming out early today, in the middle of a holiday weekend, when it was originally scheduled to be released in December. It's still unclear why the date was moved up. But it's Black Friday, few people will be paying attention, and that part or few people rather will be paying attention as they're shopping. That part raising some questions. The report is part two of NOAA's climate assessment and will analyze the climate - the impact that climate change has across the U.S. The first part released last November concluded that there is, quote, "no convincing alternative explanation for the changing climate other than human activities."

Here with me to discuss further is the director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn state, Michael Mann. Michael thanks for taking the time. I should also note he's the author of the "Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics And Driving Us Crazy."

Michael, as if we need another reason to go crazy, but I hear you here. Let me start on the wildfires if I can because I think one thing that people have trouble with, with climate change, is it seems like this distant danger out there. Is it really going to affect me? But you have said, and others have said, that these wildfires are worse in part because of climate change. Explain why that's the case.

MICHAEL MANN, DIRECTOR OF THE EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCE CENTER, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY: Yes, well, you know, you take unprecedented heat and unprecedented drought, which is what California has seen in recent years. And you're going to get worse, bigger, more destructive wildfires. So it isn't a coincident that over the past two years now we have seen the two most extensive wildfires in California history and now with this latest wildfire in Northern California, the Camp Fire, the most deadly and destructive wildfire in California history. It's part of a larger trend. We have seen a tripling in the extent of wildfire in the western U.S. over the past several decades. And that's attributed to the warming and drying caused by human-caused climate change. This new national assessment report makes it very clear that these wildfires, unprecedented floods, heat waves, droughts, superstorms, we are seeing the impacts of climate change now play out in real time on our television screens and our newspaper headlines.

SCIUTTO: Yes, not some punitive future. It's happening right now. What else can we expect from today's report, the key findings here?

MANN: Well, again, what the report will convey is what scientists like myself already know, because these assessment reports are based on the existing published scientific literature. And so what this report will tell us is that we are seeing the impact of climate change on our coastlines here in the United States, in terms of devastating superstorms. You add a foot of sea level rise and we could see six feet to eight feet of sea level rise by the end of the century if we continue with business as usual burning of fossil fuels.

But even with the one foot of sea level rise that we have seen combined with these more devastating storms we're seeing unprecedented death and destruction with storms like Florence that made landfall in North Carolina earlier this fall, and last year, Hurricane Harvey. Those were the two worst flooding events in U.S. history. You warm up the oceans, there's more moisture in the atmosphere. You get worse flooding. You slow down the jet stream because of a warmer arctic. You get storms that are parked in the same location day after day. And that's when you get unprecedented, truly devastating flooding events like we've seen in recent years.

So this report lays out in painstaking detail the impacts that climate change is already having and prospects for averting far worst changes. What this report makes clear is what other assessments have made clear. We still have time to act, to reduce our carbon emissions so that we avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The most devastating and potentially irreversible impact of climate change, but we don't have much time left to do that.

SCIUTTO: So let me ask you this. The president has long raised something of a climate change denier himself, and he tweeted this week because we're in the midst of about a 48-hour cold snap in the northeast, he tweeted, "Brutal and extended cold blast could shatter all records. Whatever happened to global warming?"

What's your reaction when you see a U.S. president cast aside all the data, in effect, and tweet something like that to his 50 million followers?

[10:40:05] MANN: Well, obviously, it's disturbing. And there's a rule that applies here. When Donald Trump says something, usually the opposite is true. And in this case, that is once again true. We're not going to see record all-time cold. We've got a cold snap right now. We get these in the winter. Climate change may actually be intensifying storms in a way that does give us worse extremes on both sides, cold and warm. But if you look at the data, which our president is not unfortunately willing to do and you step back, you'll see that we're breaking all-time records for warmth at twice the rate we see cold records. (CROSSTALK) What that tells us is that we're seeing the loading of the dice.

SCIUTTO: Global average temperatures. That's the thing to look at. Don't look at one day of snowing. Michael Mann thanks very much for following all this. You must be feeling like you're shouting against a storm sometimes here, but we appreciate the work you do.

MANN: We'll do it. We'll conquer this problem. We will work on it. Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Thank you, sir.

James Comey telling House Republicans he will not testify behind closed doors, instead offering to do so publicly. Will Republicans who for a brief moment still control things in the House, will they take him up on his offer?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:45:49] SCIUTTO: This morning, the former FBI director James Comey is fighting back, telling House Republicans that he will not testify behind closed doors next month. This comes just two days after Republicans issued subpoenas for both the fired FBI director and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. All of this as former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos heads to prison on Monday. He will serve a 14-day prison sentence for lying to investigators about his contact with Russian affiliates, operatives during the campaign.

Joining me now to discuss is CNN legal analyst Shan Wu. So this is -- you can look at this, Shan, I suppose, as Republicans get a last shot in the lame-duck session before they give up control of committees and subpoena power to Democrats in the new session. Comey said listen, I'll testify. I just won't do it in private. I want it to be in public so there's a record of this. Can he force that during this lame-duck session with Republicans still in control?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think he can legally force it. He can fight back through his lawyer saying there's an abuse of process. But I think politically, he may be able to force it. I mean it's a very smart and savvy move on him reflecting his skills in those areas because, of course, if he's behind closed doors, they can selectively leak it and spin it the way they want. But if he's in public, they can't do that. And they don't want to give James Comey a public platform. That is not going to be a good thing for them.

SCIUTTO: Right. What are they trying to get out of Comey and Lynch here? What lines of inquiry do Republicans have to focus on?

WU: I think what they would like to focus on is looking at potential kind of a corrupt looking atmosphere. You know, why were, for example, there's the famous tarmac meeting with Lynch. There's a question of you know why were they focusing on this investigation versus the other with the Clinton e-mails? And such as though they might have been playing favorites with that, but the danger of that, you know going back to public aspect, is they can't control that dialogue if it's in public. I mean this is a very much a last gasp as you said political maneuver to kind of put that focus back on those issues for a moment. But if they let him go public with that, I mean they'll just lose control of that narrative altogether.

SCIUTTO: I always remind people, it's one of those things where Democrats, many or some, blame Comey for losing Hillary Clinton the election by you know his public statements about e-mail use, reopening the investigation days before election day. Of course, since then, Comey has become a favorite target of Trump. Can it be true that Comey both an enemy of Republicans and Democrats here? Or he was just doing his job as head of the FBI?

WU: Well I think he was doing his job. But I think he is quite conscious of being attacked by both sides. I think he's quite conscious of the potential political benefits of being attacked by both sides. He can say he's really bipartisan.

SCIUTTO: George Papadopoulos, he is going to go to prison Monday. And this has struck me as interesting because he of course pled guilty a number of weeks ago to lying to investigators, got a two-week term. At his sentencing, he issued a very apologetic mea culpa, acknowledging a terrible mistake here, asking for the chance to make amends in effect. But since then, he has been tweeting a lot of public accusations of a conspiracy here, the Australians, the British, the U.S. intelligence, an attempt to undermine the Trump campaign. What's going on - what's going on here? And why hasn't the judge taken into account those public statements undermining the statement of remorse at sentencing, which would presumably, help him get a lighter sentence?

WU: Yes, he is either getting some terrible advice or he's just not taking any advice. It's very crazy for him to be tweeting that way. He has no chance at all of arguing that there's something wrong with the sentence or that there's an appealable issue. He's waived that. There's very specific language between the judge and defendant telling them that they can't appeal it unless it's an illegal sentence.

I think the judge here was probably just focusing on what is in front of the judge, which is whether or not he's going to have to start serving his sentence. The tremendous risk he runs, of course, is that the special counsel could say, look, we think you're breaching the plea agreement.

[10:50:04] Maybe you're not accepting responsibility. Maybe you're not actually saying that you met the standards for the false statements. Let's reopen it, go back to square one. Look at a five-year felony.

SCIUTTO: Right. That's a risk. Shan Wu, thanks very much for taking the time.

WU: Sure thing. Good to see you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Still to come this hour, Trump unleashed. The president goes off script, airing personal grievances turning a Thanksgiving call with troops in a political battle cry.

And being a start-up founder is hard, being a female founder even more difficult. Here's how one entrepreneur made flowers a big business.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINA STEMBEL, FOUNDER AND CEO, FARMGIRL FLOWERS: Everybody assumes that women that start creative businesses that are in the female centric space must have started it out of a passion project. I knew nothing about flowers, nothing. I started it because I saw a big opportunity. Farmgirl Flowers is a direct to consumer e-commerce flower company. Weirdly, it was like the last undestructed space in Silicon Valley. Instead of having hundreds of options, we offer a few higher quality better arrangements for similar prices because our waste is significantly lower than our competitors.

Back in 2010, I had $49,000 in my bank account. And so I started with that as the initial investment. I'm a solo female founder. I have less than 2 percent chance of raising capital statistically speaking. It's hard to go up against a bunch of guys that have been able to raise $10 million to $50 million and mimic a lot of the ingenuity and creativity that we put into the business that I came up with.

Growing up in Indiana, I didn't even know that that was an option to start a business. I hoped that we change that moving forward, where more men and women will see women in leadership positions and as CEOs of companies so it won't seem so strange, and then younger boys and girls can think, hey, that's an opportunity. I can start a business. I can be CEO of a company.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:56:42] SCIUTTO: Just hours from now the match, Tiger Woods versus Phil Mickelson. $9 million, if you can believe it, in bragging rights on the line. CNN sports contributor Hines Ward sat down with both of them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: And you guys had kind of a hot and cold relationship. Where are you guys at now? It seems like you guys are just having fun and it's all about golf and an appreciation for the sport.

TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Well, we've always -- we've always respected one another and what one another could do on a golf course. And, you know the wins and obviously, losing to him doesn't feel very good.

PHIL MICKELSON, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I tend to rub it in.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODS: He's the wrong guy to lose to.

WARD: We're all in our 40s and you guys found a way to get back into the winning circle. Can you describe that feeling?

MICKELSON: Our level of consistency isn't quite what it has been, but I have a feeling and belief that as we've had had a success this year. We've had a bit of a taste of it. I think that it's going to propel us into a phenomenal year in '19. I see us winning -- both winning multiple tournaments and more major championships.

WARD: Who wins the first major between you guys?

MICKELSON: It's at Augusta -- the next one is at Augusta.

WOODS: Yes, it's a good one for both of us. We both like Augusta.

MICKELSON: We both seem to have success there, so --

WOODS: I mean, there's seven coats between us --

MICKELSON: Yes, yes, yes.

WOODS: -- but I have -- but I have more.

WARD: You've got more.

MICKELSON: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

WARD: Now, Phil, I have to pound you up first for this -- your amazing dance skill --

WOODS: Oh, God.

MICKELSON: Thank you.

WARD: -- and the commercial that --

MICKELSON: Thank you.

WARD: And listen, I've won "Dancing with the Stars" --

MICKELSON: Not many appreciate those moves, so thank you.

WARD: I appreciate it and the fact that would there be any dancing going on if you --

MICKELSON: No. I mean, you said if you win. So if I win, I know it's very possible that I might do the worm across the green. It's possible.

WARD: Right.

MICKELSON: I'm not sure how it's all going to play out because I don't want to -- I don't want to rub it in too early --

WARD: Yes.

MICKELSON: -- but that could come out.

WARD: On a scale of one to 10 --

WOODS: See, there's some pressure right there.

WARD: Pressure.

WOODS: I need to win so I don't see the worm.

MICKELSON: There you go.

WARD: You don't want to see the worm, huh?

MICKELSON: How he responds to that pressure, that's the real question.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: I don't think any of us want to see that worm. Tiger is a 2-1 favorite to win the match. You can watch it on "Bleacher Report" live and pay-per-view. That is today at 3:00 Eastern Time.

Well, a student at Harvard University is making history by becoming the first DACA recipient to win the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Jin Kyu Park is expected to continue his studies at Oxford University next year, but there is one problem, once he leaves the U.S., he cannot under current law come back because he's an undocumented immigrant. He spoke with CNN earlier about his hopes for the future despite the very high legal odds against him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIN KYU PARK, AWARDED A RHODES SCHOLARSHIP: Feeling and knowing the United States is my home, but having a president and having people that never think that that's true, so that's always a potential worry, but I'm confident that the contributions that I and other immigrants make to America is going to eventually prevail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Park plans on pursuing a master's degree in Migration Studies as well as Global Health Science at Oxford.

Thanks so much for joining us today on this day after Thanksgiving. I want to wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving weekend. I'm Jim Sciutto. "At This Hour" start right now.