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Alabama Manhunt: Gunman in Mall Shooting Not Dead, Still on the Loose; Paris Protests over Rising Gas Prices Turn Violent; Report: Climate Change Will Shrink Economy, Kill Thousands; Trump Allows Troops to Use Force to Protect Border Patrol; Cost of Climate Change May Reach Billions of Dollars; Report: By Mid-Century It's Likely the Arctic Will Lose All CIs in Late Summer; Critics Suspicious about Climate Report Release Date; Climate Crisis: U.S. Government Report Has Dire Warnings about Climate Change; Trump: Military along Border Can Use "Lethal Force" If Needed; Trump Slams "Out Of Control" Ninth Circuit Court; Roger Stone Associate in Plea Talks with Mueller Team. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired November 24, 2018 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[12:00:24] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right, hello again everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Right now, a manhunt is back on in Alabama after a stunning admission from a local police department. Hoover Police admitting the man they killed during a mall shooting Thanksgiving night likely was not responsible for two other people being shot.
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WHITFIELD: So chaos broke out on one of the busiest shopping nights. Police say an altercation escalated into a shooting that left two people hospitalized. A police officer then shot and killed 21-year- old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. an armed man, police originally believed was responsible for the shooting and now they say that Bradford was not the man who fired the shots and the search is on for the actual gunman.
In all of this CNN's Natasha Chen joining me right now on what is a very confusing incident overall but there are a lot of discrepancies.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT FOR CNN NEWSOURCE BASED IN CNN'S WASHINGTON D.C. BUREAU: Yes. Absolutely Fred. In the last hour since I spoke with you, we've been trying to get some of these answers from law enforcement; we still haven't heard back from them yet.
The last thing we heard from Hoover Police was a statement that they released overnight and, in that statement, they said that "Our Department does not typically statements, media updates during an internal investigation," but there was information discussed with local media last night that merits update and clarification.
Now again the initial report was that two men had gotten into a fight of some kind at the mall that resulted in a 21-year-old shooting an unarmed 18-year-old and that victim was taken to the hospital.
The update now says that the 21-year-old identified as Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. may have been involved in some aspect of the allocation but he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18- year-old victim and police say Bradford did flee the scene, brandishing his weapon, that's when an armed Hoover police officer who was working as mall security shot and killed him. So if Bradford is not the one who shot the 18-year-old, there is someone out there who did.
Police say they now believe there were more than two people involved in the initial fight with at least one gunman still at large who could be responsible for the 18-year-old shooting victim as well as the 12- year-old girl who was caught in the crossfire; she was also taken to the hospital.
And we've learned from the Army that Bradford had enlisted but did not complete his training. It's not clear right now if police believe he fired any of the shots during this incident though they say he was somehow involved. And the last we heard Fred, is that the officer involved is on administrative leave as they figure out what happened here.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much Natasha.
CHEN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about all of this, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Art Roderick. So police...
ART RODERICK, FORMER U. S. MARSHALL & CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Hi Fred.
WHITFIELD: ... Art -- good to see you, say the man they shot and killed was not responsible for this shooting. What kind of questions do you have here?
RODERICK: Well there's a lot of questions and we all know how chaotic these incidents are when they initially occur especially when you're talking about on Thanksgiving Day, one of the bigger shopping days you know, besides Black Friday and you know, when you listen to the witness statements the chaos in that mall was unbelievable, when you listen to the hand-held video there from the camera phone and you hear a lot of rounds going off so knowing how these malls operate.
In this mall is owned by a place called Brookfield Properties out of Chicago, Illinois and they own like a hundred or manage a hundred and sixty-two malls in 42 states around the country, security is generally the same so there's cameras everywhere in these locations both internally and externally and I think after reviewing this video is when law enforcement went ahead and changed the statement that they made initially right after the incident occurred.
WHITFIELD: So is that generally the sequence or would they I mean -- wouldn't they want to view the video first before revealing and sharing the name of someone who might be a suspect and then come to find out they're not, I mean you know, I just wonder if this was avoidable in mis-identifying somebody?
RODERICK: It probably was avoidable but it sounds like this particular individual that was shot and killed did have some involvement in it plus he's in possession of a firearm, we don't know if he legally owned the firearm or not at this particular point in time but I'm pretty sure that based on the video that you have both within the mall and externally, they'll be able to track who exactly was involved in this -- in this altercation both inside the mall and then outside the mall and figure out exactly where they went.
You've got multiple agencies involved now. You have the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency which is the state component [12:05:08] that has now taken over the investigation which is good because you have a third-party law enforcement agency conducting this officer-involved shooting so it -- this was probably avoidable if they went and looked at the video but sometimes the press puts a lot of pressure on for a statement right away and that could've been the case here in this particular instance.
WHITFIELD: All right. Art Roderick, thank you so much.
RODERICK: Thanks Fred.
WHITFIELD: We're also following breaking news out of Paris, angry protests over rising gas prices, have turned violent.
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WHITFIELD: Police are using tear gas and water cannon as thousands protest along the famous Champs-Elysees. Protesters are also venting their anger over French President, Emmanuel Macron's environmental policies; the average price of gas in Paris is already more than $5.50 per gallon. Officials say that two people have died so far in the unrest that began last week.
CNN Senior International Correspondent, Jim Bitterman is in Paris and so Jim, behind you are lots of lights because people have started to celebrate the holiday season but you also have lots of unrest behind you as well?
JIM BITTERMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, PARIS: Lots of demonstrators. This is usually the signal of the start of the shopping season here, last Thursday when they lit the lights along the Champs-Elysees but today there certainly weren't many shoppers evident in the crowds they basically were the protesters, these "gilets jaunes" as they're called in French, the "yellow vests" who basically have been protesting -- started off protesting rising gas prices, that started last week.
But now it's been more generalized, it's generalized into rising prices, rising cost of living, diminished pension-plan contributions, and things like that, that people are against so a lot of people came out in the streets; they estimated 80,000 across Paris -- across France rather that came out 20,000 or so here in Paris and along the streets they've -- police have had a running battle going all day long with the demonstrators here. They've been going since about 10 o'clock this morning and now it's just after 6 o'clock here so they basically have been fighting the demonstrators all day long.
Now just in the last hour, the police made a massive assault using a lot of vehicles and a lot of policemen. They came down the avenue and basically stepped away the demonstrators, force them on the side streets and it appears all but a hundred or so who are just below me here have disappeared and gone home, I suspect, at this hour.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jim Bitterman, thank you so much, in Paris.
All right, straight ahead, a dire warning from government scientists about the impacts of Climate Change and the report painted a grim picture of premature deaths and harsh economic consequences, so how will the president, a Climate Change skeptic respond?
Plus, as a migrant caravan nears the southern U.S. border, President Trump grants troops new authority to use lethal force [12:08:17].
[12:12:29] WHITFIELD: A new report delivers a dire warning about the effects of Climate Change. The federally mandated study warns that climate change could have a catastrophic effect on human health, quality of life, and even the U.S. economy.
Here now is CNN's Rene Marsh.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT BASED IN THE WASHINGTON D.C. BUREAU: Well if you weren't paying attention to the Climate Change issue, this report could change that; it is frightening and screams serious action has to be taken now. It is the work of federal agencies and the scientific community and the report makes it clear that we are already experiencing the dangerous effects of Climate Change.
It states that wildfire season is long now but will only get longer, burning six times more forest area per year by the year 2050; more people will be exposed to ticks that carry Lyme disease; and mosquitoes that transmits viruses such as Zika, West Nile, and Dengue; allergy season will be a lot worse; higher temperatures will also kill more people, it specifically looks at the Midwest.
The Midwest is predicted to have the largest increase in extreme temperature and according to the report it will see an additional 2,000 premature deaths per year by the year 2090; oh, and the cost that's going to be a big one as well, the cost of Climate Change according to the report could reach hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
And by mid-century it says it is very likely that the Arctic will be nearly free of sea ice in late summer.
We should point out this was a congressionally mandated report. It was released by the Trump administration, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, when people were distracted and families are shopping and the release time really sparking controversy and speculation that it is being buried on a day when few people will be paying attention.
The report also came one day after the president tweeted, and I'm quoting, "Brutal and extended cold blast could shatter all records; whatever happened to global warming." That tweet illustrates Trump's continued skepticism when it comes to Climate Change and it directly contradicts the findings in this government report.
The tweet also illustrates the president's lack of understanding on the issue, as we know Climate Change is best exemplified by the consistent rise in temperatures, year after year, not extreme weather over a one-day period.
Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: Straight ahead, President Trump says troops stationed at the southern border can use lethal force to protect themselves and border patrol agents [12:15:10], this as thousands of migrants arrive in Mexico [12:15:11].
[12:19:42] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.
The president says he has authorized U.S. troops on the southern border to use lethal force against approaching migrants if those troops are threatened. He made this stunning announcement during a Thanksgiving call to members of the U.S. military.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If they have to, they're going to use lethal force. I've...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: they've been authorized (ph)?
TRUMP: ... I've given the OK, yes. They have to. I hope they don't have to but you know, you're dealing with a minimum of five [12:20:08] hundred serious criminals so I'm not going to let the military be taken advantage of, I have no choice.
Do I want that to happen? "Absolutely not, but you're dealing with rough people."
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: With me now is A. Scott Bolden, an Attorney, and a former Chair for the D.C. Democratic Party; also, with me Alice Stewart, a Republican Strategist. Good to see both of you, happy Thanksgiving weekend.
A. SCOTT BOLDEN, MANAGING PARTNER OF REED SMITH LLP, WASHINGTON, D.C., & TOP WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & PROMINENT NATIONAL VOICE IN POLITICS: Happy...
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & REPUBLICAN AND COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: And to you...
SCOTT BOLDEN: ... Thanksgiving...
STEWART: ... Fred.
SCOTT BOLDEN: ... to you as well.
WHITFIELD: All right. So Alice, you first you know, this order certainly steps up the president's rhetoric you know, about the migrant caravan. If troops use lethal force against migrants, this is what the president is calling for in the signed memorandum but it's really not that simple, is it?
STEWART: It's not. Look the memorandum clearly states that he wants to make sure that (a) we protect and secure the border but the mission of the troops there is for a couple purposes: crowd control; and the temporary detention.
But General Mattis has made it quite clear that he doesn't intend to arm these troops being used for this purpose with guns which would help minimize any kind of disturbance and possibly something that would get out of hand so there's been some -- direct orders from the White House as to what needs to be done but some of the specifics of this are by General Mattis and I trust him to do what's needed to be done there at the border.
But keep in mind this is not a surprise that we are where we are. President Trump made it clear while he was campaigning and in office, he does intend to secure the border and all of this that he has been executing, it's not just in his power to do so it's his responsibility in order to protect not just the citizens of this country but our military and law enforcement on the border, making sure we are enforcing those laws.
WHITFIELD: But Scott already on the books you know, there are protections in place for U.S. troops if they are not to enforce you know, U.S. law but this memorandum, does this change the role of these U.S. troops or does this allow for an opening to potentially you know, change the rules of engagement here?
SCOTT BOLDEN: Absolutely. Just the rhetoric alone and then this document that they've put forth, it doesn't just cloud the issue, it creates a very dangerous environment because now you have authorization to use lethal force, and now that's in the judgment of these soldiers that are there. Listen we don't need soldiers at the border. These 500 dangerous people aren't dangerous, they're coming here for the American dream and if some of them are dangerous, the presence of the military, they - there could just exacerbate the situation. It's a bad mix and so why create that bad mix?
Here's an idea, instead of the soldiers being there, why don't you hire contractors and government contractors to support the border patrol and not even put an order in place. It's just a scare tactic and I'm going to tell you, it could backfire on us if those migrants start getting shot by the police or -- I'm sorry, start being shot by these soldiers for whatever reason.
WHITFIELD: OK. So let's shift gears a little bit here. The president also you know, using that Thanksgiving call not just to say that you know, troops will be you know, used to protect the border in that manner but also talking about targeting you know, the Ninth Circuit and he talked about how he doesn't necessarily you know, trust the rule of law, listen?
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We get a lot of bad-court decisions from the Ninth Circuit which has become a big thorn in our side. It's a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services, when they tell you how to protect your border.
It's a shame, it's a shame; it's a disgrace frankly.
And essentially, they are legislating...
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WHITFIELD: So Alice, help people understand, what is he doing? Why is he -- you know, attacking federal courts, on a local -- on a federal level and you know, on all the lower levels particularly of courts below the U.S. Supreme Court?
STEWART: Simply put Fred, he's attacking them because he views their decision as an attack on him and he has always said, "If you punch me, I'm going to punch back 10 times harder," and that's exactly what the case is here with the Ninth Circuit overturning recent action by this administration there at the border with regards to immigrants coming into this country.
Clearly, it's frustrating for him and he -- once again wants to make sure that we immediately address...
WHITFIELD: But is it...
STEWART: ... the issue.
WHITFIELD: ... an issue of the president doesn't know the law and then the courts are reinforcing the law and making rulings based on that. Is that really an issue of attacking the president? STEWART: Look they're -- this is their interpretation of the law but if you specifically look at the Immigration statute in 212 it specifically states that if the president deems people coming into this country as a danger, he does by proclamation have the authority to engage [12:25:07] -- take action independently of Congress for a temporary period of time if he feels they are a threat to this country.
This President clearly feels they are a threat. That's exactly why he's taking actions.
SCOTT BOLDEN: Based on what though? Based on what? Some whim...
SCOTT BOLDEN: ... in his head, that he thinks that they -- that there dangerous because he's described them as dangerous.
Here's the bottom line though, that decision that was rendered by the -- a judge in the Ninth Circuit, made it clear, it said, "An executive order cannot be -- repugnant or overturn the Congress' intent with the statute in a rights (ph) because otherwise it would be inconsistent with his executive order which is contrary to fundamental law.
So the Ninth Circuit isn't telling him that he can't do it. They're telling him, he can't do it by executive order and that is a huge difference.
Secondly, he's attacking the Circuit, not even the decisions. If you don't like their decision, then you ought to send them something that is rooted in law and not rooted in rhetoric and not rooted in a whim or not just because you want to make a political statement to your core 35 percent.
SCOTT BOLDEN: Any decision by the courts that he doesn't like, he has (ph) a problem.
STEWART: ... but it is important to note, that while we see a lot of video and images of women and children coming here, our own DHS officials have said there is a certain element of criminals in the caravan. Our Mexican counterparts have said just the same.
So we're -- we're not talking about every person in this caravan but it just takes one to cause -- serious concern on the part of the president and that's -- that's why he's taken actions...
SCOTT BOLDEN: And it takes...
STEWART: ... he's hearing...
SCOTT BOLDEN: ... one...
STEWART: ... information directly from people in Mexico and here in the states.
SCOTT BOLDEN: ... and all it takes is one military officer, right, to misread a situation. There's a language barrier, all it takes is one soldier to make a mistake with the authorization to shoot, and you got a disaster in your hands.
This president is dangerous with these executive orders and the only buffers is the judiciary and thank goodness we have them in the Ninth Circuit.
But let me tell you something else, the First Circuit, the Third Circuit, and the Sixth Circuit, right, are overturned far more than the Ninth Circuit and the Ninth Circuit is a big circuit; it's got those border states: Arizona; California; and Nevada, you're going to get a lot of cases there but the president just doesn't understand the appeal system.
WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there.
All right, A. Scott Bolden, Alice Stewart, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
SCOTT BOLDEN: Thank you.
STEWART: Thanks Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, and associate of Roger Stone says he's negotiating a plea deal with Special Counsel Bob Mueller, could this be problematic for the president [12:32:38]?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: An associate of President Trump's friend and longtime advisor Roger Stone is in plea negotiations with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Jerome Corsi is a well-known conspiracy theorist and conservative commentator. And his role in the investigation largely revolves around the possibility he may have been an intermediary between Stone and Wikileaks. CNN Senior National Correspondent Alex Marquardt has more.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The fact that Jerome Corsi is working on a plea deal is a possible sign that Robert Mueller and his team think Corsi has something quite significant to share. It is a big development that could give the Russia probe a crucial missing link in the investigation into collusion with Russia; specifically, linking Wikileaks and the hacked Democratic e-mails that they dumped to the Trump campaign. Corsi has not said anything more about his plea negotiations so we don't know where those talks stand but this does come after Corsi himself said just last week that he expected to be indicted by Mueller for allegedly lying.
JEROME CORSI, ASSOCIATE OF ROGER STONE: The entire negotiation discussions have just blown up. And now I fully anticipate that in the next few days I will be indicted by Mueller for some form or other of giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand jury or however they want to do the indictment. But I'm going to be criminally charged.
MARQUARDT: Now, many people may not have heard of Corsi, but the special counsel's office is very interested in him because of his friendship with Roger Stone and his possible role as an intermediary to Wikileaks, which of course released the hacked e-mails of the DNC and then Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta in the leadup to the 2016 election. Corsi claims he came up with what he called a prediction that Podesta's e-mails would be hacked and released right before the election. That theory, he said, he shared with Roger Stone who then tweeted something to that effect.
And that prediction turned out to be true. Corsi denies he has any ties to or any sources inside Wikileaks. Roger Stone has also responded to news of this plea deal on the radio and denied that Corsi told him the Podesta e-mails would be stolen and then published.
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ASSOCIATE: I'm unaware of any plea bargaining. I have no idea what this is about other than to say that the assertion that Jerry Corsi knew in advance that John Podesta's e- mails had been obtained and would be published would be news to me. But this idea that Jerry Corsi could implicate me, there's simply no evidence whatsoever.
MARQUARDT: Stone also said in that interview that Corsi is under a tremendous amount of pressure, as he put it, and is being asked over and over by the special counsel's office to say things he does not believe occurred. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk more about all this with CNN Legal Analyst and Former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu. All right, good to see you, Shan.
SHAN WU, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Hi, (inaudible).
WHITFIELD: OK, so Corsi announced that he might be indicted and now apparently he's in the middle of plea negotiations. What could he possibly know? What's so valuable?
WU: It sounds like they are looking for him for information about the potential link to the Wikileaks as well as whether there's an actual link to Assange. I mean, there's that very tantalizing tidbit we've heard that there might be an actual sealed indictment against Assange right now. So they're looking for that connection and of course there's that odd timing where President Trump had made on the campaign -- that prediction about, you know, something's coming with Hillary and then voila, you know, the e-mails are released.
So they're looking to tie that aspect down. I think what is troubling for Stone, of course, is that there's been a slow kind of like moving in towards him of these people around him. And while we don't know exactly what the situation is with Corsi, you don't really make that kind of announcement and you certainly don't spend 40 hours talking to prosecutors unless they have something that they're very interested in and you have something to tell them.
WHITFIELD: So then what kind of pressure does this put, then, on Roger Stone?
WU: Puts a lot of pressure on Stone to the extent that he can figure out what it is that they're saying. So if there really is something there that in fact he was directly in touch with Assange and wasn't just, you know, Roger promoting himself, then these folks are going to know the way, you know, Randy Credico had already been in as well. And so it really puts pressure on Stone to know that everyone else is fessing up and he might want to try to come forward himself.
Again, the big problem for someone is you don't want to be the last person left standing here. If everyone else has gone in, you'll have nothing to negotiate with.
WHITFIELD: Do you see that this is laying the groundwork for more than just, you know, lying, whether it's -- you know, Corsi is being questioned for 40 hours, as you put it. Is it about consistencies in stories or is it about, you know, Roger Stone potentially hiding something?
WHITFIELD: Is it about more than perjury potentially?
WU: It's hard to know that. It's certainly -- they're going to be very comprehensive. I mean, I've dealt with these prosecutors when I did represent Rick Gates briefly. They're going to be very comprehensive. Given the opportunity to talk to someone with a free rein like this, they're going to cover everything from A to Z. So it's certainly possible that he's giving up substantive things. It may also be that a lot of those 40 hours are spent going meticulously over details, which is what tripped him up. There may be various errors that he made, things that he thought were small falsehoods that, in that amount of time, they've caught.
And one technique a prosecutor uses is if they catch you in that small lie, now they've got some leverage on you to say hey, we can charge you with false statements. Why don't you really open up and tell us what's really going on.
WHITFIELD: So all of this -- does this make it look like the net is getting wider in your view or are -- is the scope getting more narrow? The overall Mueller investigation in your view?
WU: I actually think it shows us how wide the net originally was cast for it. And it -- you know, it's very hard for us to tell because they've been so quiet about it. But I think it was cast very widely and we're beginning to be able to see kind of just how far it has been cast. And I think they're still kind of crossing the T's and dotting the I's right now and just taking care of all the different aspects of this investigation.
WHITFIELD: All right, Shan Wu. Always good to see you.
WU: You too.
WHITFIELD: Happy Thanksgiving weekend.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, an American ally accuses President Trump of, quote, turning a blind eye to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. This as the president digs in his heels in his support of the Saudis and Democrats vow to investigate.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Turkey's foreign minister is chastising President Trump's decision to stand by Saudi Arabia. He's accusing the president of turning a blind eye to the CIA's high-confidence assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. President Trump has continued to cast doubt on the CIA's findings, while arguing that Saudi money flowing into the U.S. is too important to lose.
Joining me right now, David Priess, a former intelligence officer and a briefer -- and briefer rather, at the CIA, he was also Robert Mueller's CIA daily intelligence briefer for more than a year, and he is now the chief operating officer of the Lawfare Institute. Good to see you, David. So ...
DAVID PRIESS, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, LAWFARE INSTITUTE: Good to see you, happy Thanksgiving.
WHITFIELD: ... Happy Thanksgiving. So what is your gut instinct telling you about why the president is showing such allegiance, you know, to this Saudi Arabian leadership versus the CIA's most recent findings?
PRIESS: Yes. Let me go big and -- and then I'll go small.
PRIESS: Going big, there is a long history of presidents disagreeing with intelligence assessments or, even if not disagreeing with them, just choosing to ignore what would look like an obvious policy implication because it's inconvenient for their beliefs or inconvenient for the policies that they're already pursuing. So this is not historically unusual. Presidents all the time rejected intelligence assessments that they got that they just didn't want to hear the news.
Going -- going more small on this, looking at Trump in particular, you have seen the statements from Trump.
[12:45:00] He keeps talking about the number of jobs that Saudi money provides, he keeps talking about numbers. He tends to thinks in terms of transactional matters and in terms of numbers, not in terms of things like long term implications for human rights or protecting journalists abroad. So it's not surprising to me, based open his predilections, that he is not acting on this intelligence that -- the way you would expect most presidents would.
WHITFIELD: OK, but -- but -- but what's different here? Yes, presidents of the -- of the past have been reticent about certain CIA findings, but in this case where you've got an ally of Turkey who is saying here's our assessment, we've got the CIA saying here's our assessment of the murder of a journalist in the consulate in Turkey and the information is handed over, you know, to the White House and the president has consistently said either I'm not so sure, I don't have the whole picture, but then there is this latest big assessment. It doesn't look good for Saudi Arabia and you don't have the president, you know, respecting the findings. Is there anything different about this equation to you in this circumstance?
PRIESS: We -- we haven't had something this blatant with an ally like Saudi Arabia in -- in this precise way, so it is different there. The other part of it that's different is things are going to change in January. With the Democrat control in the House, you're going to have meaningful oversight of this. And it is the legitimate turf of the Intelligence Committee to bring forward in classified hearings -- to bring forward the intelligence officers who produced these assessments and say, we've seen the leaked reports in the newspapers but let's hear it from you.
What were your assessments, what were those assessments based on, what are your uncertainties, what are your confidence levels, what did you brief to the administration so we can look at that and say did the administration take this on board in a way that comports with the United States national interests or not. That's different than we've seen before, is this level of oversight on a very sensitive intelligence assessment. We haven't really had that in two years.
WHITFIELD: So how do you also defend the president's point of view, which is, you know, he's weighing human rights, you know, versus transactional, you know, policies? He's looking -- he's said it himself, he's like -- you know, he's -- he's considering a lot of things. And, you know, he's kind of truncated it down to, you know, there are jobs, there's a lot of money at stake here. So help people understand the president's point of view as he's calculating, you know, the -- the -- the killing of a journalist who lived in Virginia, you know, versus, I guess the future path of ongoing relations with that country.
PRIESS: There's a myth out there that solid intelligence drives policy. That is, if there's a high confidence assessment out there that something happened, that there is only one policy route that can be taken. Well if that were true, there's a whole lot of people who need to go back to what they were thinking, what, 15 years ago when there were relatively high confidence assessments about Iraq having WMD and that leading to a war in Iraq. It doesn't work that way. The intelligence informs policy but it doesn't drive a specific
policy. The president has to weigh not only the intelligence but also the alliance relationship, the economy, relationships with other allies -- in this case like Turkey and with Europe -- and stack all that up. The thing that's surprising is that he hasn't appeared to have been doing the stacking up. His story hasn't changed even as the Saudi's story --
WHITFIELD: Do you --
PRIESS: -- has changed again --
WHITFIELD: Do you also --
PRIESS: -- and again and again.
WHITFIELD: Are you also -- the CIA mind that is yours, are you also stacking up what the president is assessing for his own, you know, personal or business pursuits aside from his role as the president?
PRIESS: Well there is an impact on the intelligence community. That is when you see a high confidence assessment going to a senior policymaker and them seeming to ignore it, there is some impact. But let me tell you, feelings don't enter into this for the average intelligence officer. If our feelings were hurt every time an intelligence assessment were ignored or discarded, there would be more therapists working at Langley than there are intelligence officers and analysts. So I think they're just putting their heads down and continuing to do that work and get those assessments to other senior policymakers who appear to be taking their information on board.
WHITFIELD: All right. David Priess, thank you so much for your insight and your input. And happy Thanksgiving weekend. Appreciate it.
PRIESS: Have a good weekend.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still so much more straight ahead in the newsroom. But first, this week's CNN hero, Amanda Boxtel.
AMANDA BOXTEL: 26 years ago I went out skiing and I remember I somersaulted. I landed on my back. And I knew in that instant that I was paralyzed. But I was determined to show that I wasn't going to give up so easily. I was inspired to create a program that could gift mobility to anyone that has a neurological impairment.
WHITFIELD: Wow, to see more of Amanda's story or vote for the person you think should be our CNN hero of the year, go to cnnheroes.com.
Welcome back. The fire that has raged around Paradise, California for more than two weeks now is now 95 percent contained according to state officials. Today's searchers are looking for 475 people still unaccounted for in the area.
Eighty-four people have died in what has become the deadliest wildfire in California history. Thousands of fire evacuees still can't go home as officials say areas of Paradise are still not safe.
But that isn't stopping the Paradise Post newspaper from doing everything it can to document the town's historic destruction. CNN's Ryan Young has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LITTLE, EDITOR, CHICO ENTERPRISE-RECORD: So this is the press room.
RYAN YOUNG, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: At the Enterprise-Record in Chico, California, this is not the typical rush to meet the newspaper's deadline. You guys are still sort of trying to press forward to make sure the paper is out there. Why?
LITTLE: It's like the one small contribution we can make to make these normal for the community. You know, it's - the paper still lives, it's kind of a symbolic, important message to send to the community.
(Inaudible) not everyone's (ph) loss.
YOUNG: David Little and Rick Silva are not only covering this area's biggest story, but they are now trying to record the historic destruction for a community that's no longer there.
For safety reasons, most of the residents of Paradise haven't had a chance to see what's left of their homes.
RICK SILVA, MANAGING EDITOR, PARADISE POST: There's nothing else, and I don't think they know how little is left until they get up there. It seems like a complete removal of the town, of what it once was.
YOUNG: Rain has helped firefighters get more control of the devastating Camp Fire now some 95 percent contained. The historic fire has destroyed nearly 14,000 homes and now the Paradise Post may be the one of the few things that binds this community.
LITTLE: The printed newspaper has such staying power and so we all know that years from now, people will look back at this - these print editions as sort of a history book for what happened during the fire.
SILVA: It's the voice of the community, has been since 1947. We have to continue that.
LITTLE: We don't even know where to start, you know, 15,000 homes almost that burned, 90 percent of the city is burned and how do you start? Where do you start? Just - you know, I guess the answer is one - you help one person at a time.
YOUNG: Some residents are already planning on rebuilding, promising not to leave their homes behind. SILVA: It was mainly a retirement community. I'm not sure it's going
to be that same kind of community. We'll see. But Paradise has always been a community that can do it, has always found a way to get itself back on its feet and it will again.
It just may be a different group of people getting it back - getting it back on its feet.
YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN, Paradise, California.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And an 80 year old man is in the hospital with critical injuries this morning after a powerful explosion ripped his home to pieces. It happened Friday morning in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The explosion also damaged multiple homes and buildings in the area, neighbors say they were shaken by the blast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just watching TV, playing video games, and it was a loud explosion. It like shook the house, like somebody came and like kicked the house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next thing you know, the whole house started shaking, her brother was still sleeping, it actually woke him out of - up out of bed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Authorities believe a natural gas leak may be to blame for that explosion. It was a show down for the ages, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson playing for $9 million. And the match sure lived up to the hype.
Here's Vince Cellini.
VINCE CELLINI, SPORTS ANCHOR, CNN: Fred, it was two legends of the game, with 19 major championships between them, going neck and neck the entire way.
And in the end, it was Phil Mickelson getting the best of his long- time rival.
This was a winner-take-all pay-per-view match play event with side bets, like Phil needing birdie on the opening hole to win $200,000. But that didn't happen, meaning that
money goes to Tiger's hand-picked charity.
TIGER WOODS, PRO GOLFER: That hurts the pocket.
CELLINI: He was all broken up about it.
This was a tight back-and-forth affair from there. And a key moment in the round at 17: Tiger from off the green, a sensational touch on this chip -- vintage Woods. And he holds it and the match is all square going to the last.
After Woods graciously conceded Mickelson's putt at the last, it meant the drama of extra holes. And with night falling, it was eventually Phil Mickelson on top, dropping the four foot birdie putt on the 22nd hole to capture the win and a $9 million prize.
PHIL MICKELSON, PRO GOLFER: To be able to have just a little bit of smack talk for the coming years, it means a lot to me, because I really don't have much on him. He always drops the big picture, and it's the trump card.
But to have a day like today, I never thought we'll go to this extra hole.