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Alabama Police Say Mall Gunman Still on the Loose; A Mother in Afghanistan Makes Painful Choice to Sell Daughter to Feed Family; Trump, Chief Justice Spar over Trump's "Obama Judge" Remark; Devasted Mexico Beach Finds Reason to be Thankful. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 24, 2018 - 17:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You're live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here.

We begin this hour with a major development at the U.S.-Mexico border. "The Washington Post" is reporting the Trump administration and Mexico's incoming government have struck a deal on a new border policy that would force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their U.S. court date. Now, this would affectively end the longstanding asylum process which the president often refers to as catch and release.

No official agreement has been signed just yet and I spoke to one of the reporters who broke this story who explained what the Mexican government hopes to gain from this potential deal.


NICK MIROFF, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think there are a couple of things going on here. One is that Mexico is, like the United States, worried that more caravans will come. And if a large number of the people who are camped out in Tijuana do manage to enter the United States that that will encourage more central Americans to arrive this way.

I think that the Mexican government was disturbed at the site of the first caravan kind of forcing its way across the border and passed Mexican federal police last month. And then, on top of that, I -- you know, I think the new incoming government of Mexico and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, want to start off on a -- on a good foot, maybe by doing a favor to the Trump administration.

CABRERA: You also mentioned that there are jobs to be had in Mexico and they see the migrants being potential workers there?

MIROFF: Yes, that's right. I mean, one of the things that the Mexican officials we spoke to really emphasized was that, you know, with the United States only processing a limited number of asylum seekers every day, there's already, essentially, a de facto policy in place that's making the vast majority of these caravan members wait on the Mexican side.

And Mexico says it's doing everything possible to, kind of, alleviate the situation. It's working with local businesses, particularly in the Tijuana area, to offer jobs to the central Americans who are waiting there. And they say they have thousands of jobs available in Tijuana. And a hundred thousand jobs across the country that central American asylum seekers could take.

CABRERA: To someone who wants stricter border policy, this may look good on paper. But what are the concerns? What are human rights' groups saying?

MIROFF: Well, the biggest concern is that Mexico simply isn't a safe place and certainly not the border states and border cities where a lot of these asylum seekers may end up having to wait. The United States, you know, own State Department travel warnings discourage Americans from visiting a lot of these places.

And so, these -- you know, the Mexican government is going to have to and the U.S. is going to have to, I think, do more to ensure that these folks are not in danger while they're waiting on the Mexican side. So, that's going to be a challenge.


CABRERA: That was "The Washington Post," Nick Miroff, reporting.

Now, the White House has not released a statement just yet on this. But, earlier this week, a judge in California blocked another administration effort to deny asylum to those who cross the border illegally.

CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood is covering the president from West Palm Beach and joins us now. Sarah, give us some more context about what the president is trying to achieve with this purported asylum deal.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Ana, the president has been increasingly focused on asylum, as the component of our immigration system that he's most eager to change administratively. He's railed against so-called loopholes that allow migrants into the country illegally for long periods of time. And one of them you've mentioned before, catch and release. The practice of allowing some migrants out of detention just while their cases are working their way through the court system.

Now, this deal, if it were to put into place, would affectively turn Mexico into a waiting room, as migrants would be forced to return to Mexico south of the border, while they wait for their asylum claims to be adjudicated.

Now, the president has already tried, through executive action, to make sweeping changes to the asylum system in recent weeks. In fact, the week before the mid-term elections, the president unveiled a proposed rule change that would have forced migrants to request asylum only at a legal point of entry. It would have prevented them from requesting asylum if they were caught trying to cross the border illegally. Of course, that was blocked by a federal judge. It's a ruling that Trump has fixated on. And this report of the deal with Mexico from "The Washington Post," this comes after Trump has been putting more and more pressure on Mexico to do more to help the U.S. with its illegal immigration problem. The president has even been making trade-related threats against Mexico. For example, threatening to prevent Mexico from exporting cars to the U.S., if they didn't cooperate more on stopping the caravan of central American migrants that's heading for the border.

[17:05:02] But as that ruling on his previous asylum executive action shows, Ana, it's just not clear that the Trump administration has the authority to make this kind of deal without the input of Congress.

CABRERA: All right, Sara Westwood reporting for us in West Palm Beach. Thank you.

The mayor of Tijuana, Mexico meantime declaring a humanitarian crisis in his city over a sudden influx of thousands of central American migrants who have arrived there. Tijuana's mayor is asking the Mexican government, and even the United Nations now, for aid, for money to help cover the costs.

All this happening after a federal judge this week, as we mentioned, temporarily blocked President Trump's plan to prevent those who enter the U.S. illegally from seeking asylum. And that presidential order was made earlier this month to try to stop these same central American migrants from crossing the U.S. border.

So, lots to discuss, starting with "The Washington Post" new reporting on Mexico's surprise decision to apparently support a new Trump administration proposal, requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their U.S. applications are processed.

Joining us now, retired Admiral John Kirby. He is a former State Department and Pentagon press secretary. Also with us, S.E. Cupp, Host of "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED." And Eliana Johnson, the National Political Reporter for Politico. And CNN Global Affairs Analyst David Rohde, the executive editor of "The New Yorker" Web site.

David, are you surprised Mexico's government would make this deal to house all these migrants while the court process plays out here in the U.S.?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think it's probably a smart move by the new government that's coming in here. There has been pressure exerted by Trump, in terms of trade with Mexico. What could happen, though, is that many of these thousands of people could simply try to cross the border illegally.

And that allows the new Mexican government to say, look, we've done our part. You know, we can't control these people. And that, again, they could just head into the U.S. illegally over the border.

CABRERA: So, that could be an unintended consequence, perhaps, of this new policy if it, in fact, gets implemented. S.E., on its face, though, it does seem like it would be a huge victory for this president.

S.E. CUPP, CNN HOST, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED": It would and it would be a policy -- it would be a policy win. There is nothing wrong with asking our neighboring countries to shoulder some of the responsibility for shoring up our borders and fixing a broken immigration system that's been broken for previous administrations over decades.

The problem is, as was alluded, Congress was not involved in this decision. And it's time for Congress to start doing its job. And maybe now, with the divided Congress, Democrats having to work with Republicans, and Republicans not controlling all the levers of power, they might be forced to do that. And have those conversations that will be more long lasting than a DACA fix that lasted only two years. And we have to relitigate it every two years. Or more long lasting than this temporary Mexican waiting room solution.

Congress really needs to get its hands dirty, if we're going to have lasting solutions to these myriad immigration problems.

CABRERA: And on the issue of immigration, there are a lot of different people who have an opinion about this, to say the least. Aliana, you have some reporting this week on some of the discussions behind the scenes. But I'm wondering what this means for current DHS secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen. If this asylum deal actually comes to fruition, could this save her job?

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: You know, I think Homeland Security secretary has been taking an increasingly hawkish stance on these issues. Her department claims that she supported a recent declaration. That her closest ally in the administration, White House chief of staff, John Kelly, signed, giving the troops stationed at the border the authority to use lethal force to protect customs and border protection agents down there.

What I think is so interesting about this situation is that, for the past several decades, illegal immigrations and border issues have largely been a U.S.-Mexico issue. But as Honduras and Guatemala have become failed states, they're increasingly becoming broader south -- central American issue that the U.S. is having to ask Mexico's help on.

And that's what, I think, we're seeing here. The issue is broadening and Mexico itself is starting to struggle with this, as the caravan and other migrants are coming through Mexico to try to reach the U.S.

And, as a result, Trump is having to reach out to the New Mexican government and ask for cooperation on this. That, I think, is changing the dynamics of the illegal immigration issue in the country and for the Trump administration.

CABRERA: Eliana mentioned Trump authorizing use of lethal force for the troops he has deployed now to the nation's border. Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Arms Services Committee, weighing in saying, quote -- excuse me, Adam Smith. He says, quote, "It is unwise because the president is creating a dangerous situation, where thousands of armed troops are being asked to operate under vague and unclear rules of engagement."

[17:10:08] Admiral John Kirby, do you agree with that?

ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, CNN : I think that he's showing admirable concern over this. But I think that, based on what I understand, the rules of engagement will be very strict. Secretary Mattis is going to make sure that all non-lethal methods are used before any lethal methods might be used. And that it would strictly be in a protective situation, if border patrol agents were really facing some sort of imminent physical or deadly threats.

So, I'm not worried that the Pentagon is going to overstep here. What I am worried about is the optics of this. This is a very forwarding- leaning set of authorities. It doesn't violate posse comitatus, but it walks pretty close up to the line.

And even if their troops don't, you know, get involved in anything that would be illegal, and I don't think they will, there's still an optics issue here. They could be dragged into conflicts that would certainly not look good on the world stage.

CABRERA: Eliana, why is this issue of lethal force and troops at the border such a contentious idea internally within the White House?

JOHNSON: It's a great question. The U.S. troops are not supposed to conduct any civilian law enforcement. And when the president has said that he wants troops to have broad authorities on the border, I think it's raised concern within the military that they might be asked to conduct civilian law enforcement.

The issue -- I think Admiral Kirby is right, when he suggested on -- and that -- the civilian laws portion is in the posse comitatus act. And so, what they're doing really walks the line. And I think general -- or Secretary Mattis has been very protective of the military, not wanting to politicize the military. And so, it really is a close case. And it's something that both General Mattis and secretary -- former general now secretary Mattis and General Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff, have expressed grave concern about, because it does put the military in a potentially precarious position.

CABRERA: The president talking to U.S. service members on Thanksgiving and really turned this phone call into an extraordinary political moment. I want to play a part of the president's conversation with a Coast Guard officer. Watch this.


NICK HARTMAN, OFFICER, U.S. COAST GUARD (via telephone): A lot of our work is partnering and building relationships with the Gulf Coast countries, and so that we have a good standing in a resolve here.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And what do you see in the region? What's going on in the region? How are they feeling about things? How are they feeling about trade? Because you know trade, for me, is a very big subject all over. We've been taken advantage of for many, many years by bad trade deals. We don't have any good trade deals. How are you finding things in the region, Nick?

HARTMAN: Mr. President, from our perspective out on the water, sir, we're seeing that there is an abundance of trade happening in the region. There are vessels moving through (INAUDIBLE) and across the Arabian Gulf on a daily basis, carrying cargos to and fro. And we don't see any issues, in terms of trade right now, sir.


CABRERA: S.E., I see you shaking your head.

CUPP: Well, to put a service member who is separated from his family extensively (ph), probably for months at a time, on Thanksgiving, in a position to give a political answer, and one that President Trump clearly is leading him towards, is just grotesque.

You know, the idea that the president of the United States would use Thanksgiving Day calls to our men and women in uniform, which are meant to be supportive and appreciative and thankful for their service, as not a Thanksgiving call but more like a festivous call, an airing of grievances. This personal, political, sort of, I have to get all of this off my chest. Is really -- is really unfortunate.

Now, I do think it's important to say, for men and women in the armed service, the ceremonial stuff matters less than are they being funded? Are their missions being funded? And you have to point out that this president, this Republican Congress funded the Pentagon with as big a budget as it has ever seen, and on time budget for the first time since 2008. That stuff matters, I think, more. But this ceremonial stuff, going to Arlington, honoring veterans on Veterans Day, calling and thanking them, that matters too. And matters for morale.

CABRERA: I know it does to you, Admiral Kirby. We've talked about this. I know you found Trump's phone call offensive. You talked about troops being used as a political prop in that phone call.

I'm just wondering, though, if you felt that this is in the same light as what we saw with President George W. Bush, in that 2003 mission accomplished moment on that aircraft carrier during the Iraq War.

[17:15:00] KIRBY: Yes, I was uncomfortable at the time. Of course, I wasn't out of the military, so I wasn't free to express my views. But I was uncomfortable with that.

And I've been uncomfortable with other actions by other presidents, in terms of, you know, putting troops up behind them when they go do troops calls with the press there and they have the troops all lined up behind him. I don't like that either. And I talked about that in a piece I wrote recently.

But what bothers me more about this is this is a habit with him. I mean, we had this exact same conversation last Thanksgiving when he made a phone call and he did almost exactly the same thing. I just don't think he's capable of understanding that the subservient role that the military plays to him, as commander-in-chief, their obedience to him is not political loyalty to him and to his policies and to the Republican Party. And I just don't think he quite understands that.

And that's why I've said, and I know not everybody agrees with me, but I'd just be fine if he doesn't go visit the troops in the war zone. I would love for the commander-in-chief to do that. But if he does, then he's got to keep the politics out of it. And I just don't think he's capable of doing that.

CABRERA: David, final thought?

ROHDE: I just think this is part of the president's tendency to politicize everything. He's criticizing judges. He's using the military as props. I had my brother serve in the Air Force, my nephew is currently in the Marines. And, you know, it's a tremendous and rare American tradition to keep the military out of politics. It's something we should be proud of. And that's what makes us all so unusual. These people are risking their lives and they should not be used as political props.

CABRERA: David Rohde, Admiral John Kirby, Eliana Johnson, S.E. Cupp, what a beefy panel. I really appreciate all your thoughts. Thanks for being here.

And we'll see you, S.E., in just a few minutes --

CUPP: Yes.

CABRERA: -- on "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" at the top of the hour.

Up next, a stunning scene unfolding on the streets of Paris. Explosions and fires in parts of the city where tourists normally visit. We'll have details on what's behind these protests straight ahead in the CNN Newsroom.



CABRERA: I want to take you to Paris now. Stunning pictures coming out of there. Protesters filling the most famous street in France, the iconic Champs-Elysees with fire and explosions.

In a second weekend of protest, the usual scene of tourists and Parisians enjoying cafes and luxury shops, replaced by burning vehicles. As 8,000 protesters clashed with 3,000 police in riot gear. The demonstrators who call themselves the yellow vest are angry over rising fuel prices. Now, police used tear gas and a water cannon in an attempt to break up these demonstrations.

CNN's Jim Bittermann is joining us now from Paris. Jim, tell us why these protesters are so angry.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it started off as a fuel protest a week ago, Ana. But, in fact, over the last few days, it's generalized a lot. That people are just dissatisfied with the Macron government. His approval rating has dropped to 25 percent. They're worried about the rising cost of living, about pension payments that aren't really making ends meet.

So, it's just a generalized anger about the state of the economy. And then, of course, macron, President Macron, has vowed to continue forward on his ideas of reforming the economy here. So, the -- I think people just have had enough. And we've heard a lot of people say that today. You've heard a lot of people calling for Macron's resignation.

Now, here on the Champs-Elysees, this is not the scene you would expect on a Saturday night, following black Friday. You would think there'd be a lot of people out and that sort of thing. People today were protesters throughout the day. And only about an hour or so ago did the police make a move with a major assault on the avenue here with multiple trucks and hundreds of police to clear away the demonstrators. And, for most the part, they've succeeded. There are still a few pockets of resistance along here.

We haven't heard from Macron all day until very late this evening, when he put out this tweet. He said, thanks to all the law enforcement. You'd expect that. But he said, shame on all the people who assaulted them. Shame on those who voluntarily assaulted citizens and reporters. Shame on those who tried to intimidate our elected officials.

So, you have him taking a very, kind of, professorial, perhaps paternalistic tone, something that he's been criticized for in the past -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Jim Bittermann, thank you so much.

Back home now, there were protests as well today at a mall in Alabama. This was after police admit that the man shot and killed by an officer there was not the person who opened fire and wounded two people at that mall on Thanksgiving. Details on this and the manhunt under way just head in the CNN Newsroom.


[17:23:22] CABRERA: Welcome back. In Alabama this hour, a desperate manhunt is underway, after police backtrack and admit the man shot and killed by a police officer at a mall on Thanksgiving night was likely not the same person who shot and wounded two other people moments earlier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. Let's go. Out, out, out. Let's go.



CABRERA: It was one of the busiest shopping days of the year, when gun shots rang out at the River Chase Galleria near Birmingham, forcing terrified shoppers to run for cover. Police mistakenly thought Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. fired the rounds that left an 18-year-old and 12-year-old hospitalized. An officer fatally shot him as he fled the scene.

CNN's Natasha Chen is joining us now from Atlanta. And, Natasha, how did this happen?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, that's what friends and family want to know. They gathered at a protest this afternoon at the River Chase Galleria. And a family member talked about her last interaction with Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., or E.J.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will never let this happen to another teenager, adult, whatever. We will not let this happen again. I just spoke to my nephew in September and told him, baby, you're doing good. Take care of yourself. He said OK, auntie. OK, auntie. But I had to look on social media and find my nephew laying in blood.


CHEN: Protesters also walked through the mall, carrying signs and called for people to boycott the shops there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police lied. Say the police lied.

CROWD: The police lied.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police lied.

CROWD: The police lied.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police lied.

CROWD: The police lied.


CROWD: They lied.


CROWD: They lied.


CROWD: They lied.


CROWD: They lied.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop shopping here.

CROWD: Stop shopping here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop shopping here.

CROWD: Stop shopping here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one more dime.

CROWD: Not one more dime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one more dime.

CROWD: Not one more dime.


[17:30:00] CHEN: The initial report was that two men got into a fight of some kind at that mall that resulted in an 18-year-old man and 12- year-old girl being shot. They were both taken to hospital.

Police said Bradford was fleeing the scene and brandishing a weapon and that's when a police officer working as mall security shot and killed. Later, police issued a statement that Bradford may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation but likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim. Police say there's at least one gunman still at large.

Bradford's family has retained a lawyer. The lawyer's office released a statement from them saying they are heartbroken. "As we continue to grieve we're working daily gently with our legal team to determine what happened and why this police officer killed our son. We will never forget E.J. We ask for your continued prayers during this incredibly difficult time."

I also talked to a woman who was at the mall when this happened. She said she heard the gun shots and people ran in a panic. She hid in a dressing room with others. She is frustrated with how law enforcement has handled this entire situation.

The state agency now in charge of this investigation said there won't be more information released about this until tomorrow afternoon -- Ana?

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Natashia Chen, thank you for that update.

Earlier, I spoke with CNN law enforcement analyst and former U.S. Marshal, Art Roderick. Here's his reaction to this.


ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: As we've gone on here for the past 24, 48 hours, there's a lot of questions here. I can understand the frustration on Mr. Bradford's family side. You know, the police have indicated that he was involved somewhat in the altercation. I'm not sure what that means. Was he an innocent bystander trying to stop the altercation, or was he involved specifically in the immediate altercation? Listen, I worked as a U.S. Marshal for many years. I was always fearful of friendly fire, especially when you work in street clothes. Is that the case here? If so, it's a shame. But you can understand in these types of chaotic situations you got an individual running with a handgun. You know, I'm sure this is all on video and can be sorted out fairly quickly. And I think the benefit here is we have the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, a third-party law enforcement agency, that has now been brought in to investigate this. So we should have some answers. And hopefully the press conference tomorrow afternoon will shed a lot of light on this.

CABRERA: Walk me through how police will be going about this investigation?

RODERICK: Well, to me there's three things here. There's the video which is important. I mean these major malls around the country, this was the largest indoor mall in Alabama, they have cameras all over the place. They will immediately grab all that security video to try to not only identify the individuals involved in the shooting, but also what Mr. Bradford was doing at the time of the shooting. So they are able to track what's going on inside the mall and outside the mall. Secondly, you have plenty of witnesses that saw the incident. They'll also be looking for cell phone camera. Then the ballistics is the key. If you heard some of the earlier cell phone video, there was a lot of shots going off. Once they match the ballistics up with who fired at that particular location, and once they pull together, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency goes ahead and looks at all this, they should have some answers fairly quickly.

CABRERA: You would think at a mall there would be surveillance cameras everywhere. Are you surprised there's somebody still on the loose? They haven't identified even the shooter yet.

RODERICK: I am kind of surprised, but sometimes a good indicator that they are onto very good leads is they are not sharing a lot of information with the press and with the public on exactly who that particular individual is.


CABRERA: Our thanks to Art Roderick.

Again, we expect an update on this story sometime tomorrow afternoon. We'll stay on top of it for you.

Some other breaking news we're following, another shooting inside a Walmart. A suspect now in custody after the shooting turned deadly. This is in Ocala, Florida. Police say the 55-year-old suspect sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound but is alive and has been transported to a local hospital. According to police, this all began with an argument between a man and a woman inside the garden center and we're told that man then shot that woman multiple times.

Just in to CNN, we're learning a U.S. servicemember was killed in Afghanistan. The identity is being held until next of kin is notified. This is the second servicemember to be killed this month. On November 3rd, Major Brent Taylor was killed in Kabul. Taylor was a member of the Army National Guard. He was also mayor of his Utah town. A new U.S. government report has a dire warning on climate change.

Details on that just ahead.

Also, a drought leads to desperation.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "She doesn't know, but I've sold her. How could she know? She's a child. But I had no other choice."


[17:35:04] CABRERA: A mother in Afghanistan forced to make a painful choice in order to feed her family.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:39:43] CABRERA: Climate change could cost lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. That's the dire warning in a new government reporting detailing the devastating impact of climate change on human health, quality of life, and even the U.S. economy. This report says some of the effects we'll see, if nothing is done, include wildfire scenes burning up to six times more forest area annually by 2050. More mosquito and tick-borne diseases like Zika and Dengue. Higher temperatures leading to many more deaths.

This was a federally mandated study released earlier than planned, the day after Thanksgiving, and its findings run counter to the president's message that climate change is a hoax. Just this week, he once again confused climate and weather patterns, tweeting, "Brutal and extended cold blast could shatter all records. Whatever happened to global warming?"

Now the report comes after the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in California's history. Experts say they are, in part, the result of drought conditions triggered by climate change.

Half a world away, devastating drought is forcing families from their homes in Afghanistan and forcing some of them to resort to extreme measures just to survive.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has this exclusive story from western Afghanistan where one family sold their 6-year-old daughter in order to keep from starving.


PATON WALSH (voice-over): There's record violence in Taliban- controlled territory. They're fleeing from ISIS or unparalleled airstrikes by coalition that's forced them from their homes. They are instead running from drought. A record dry spell forcing more families in Afghanistan from their homes this year than the war has.

And as if Afghanistan hasn't already broken all superlatives for its misery, this is what it's driving them to.

Met Memary (ph) and her 6-year-old daughter, Akila. You would think a tiny family united under plastic sheeting. But desperation means it hasn't turned out that way.

Memary (ph) has sold Akila for $3,000.

To this man. He will give her to his 10-year-old son.

Listen to how they got her.

Memary (ph) first.


PATON WALSH: "I fled my village," she says, "with my three children because of severe drought. I came here thinking I would receive some assistance but I have nothing. To avoid starvation among my children, I gave my daughter to a man for about $3,000 but I've only got $70 so far. I have their money, no food, no bread winner. My husband was also killed. She doesn't know, but I've sold her. How could she know? She's just a child. But I had no other choice.

What if Akila tries to run, we ask.


PATON WALSH: "Whether through tears or in laughter," she says, "Akila will have to go. Who would sell a piece of her heart unless they really have to?"

Akila's buyer thinks buying a 6-year-old girl is an act of charity.


PATON WALSH: "Her family doesn't have anything to eat," he says. "They were hungry. I know, I'm also poor, but I'm sure I can pay it off slowly in two or three years."

The cameraman asks, but aren't they children?


PATON WALSH: "Doesn't matter," he says. "These things happen here. Even an old man marries a young girl. It happens."

He also fled the drought. The U.N. said it has put 275,000 people on the move this year, about half from around the area.


PATON WALSH: "The wheat crop failed us," he says. "We couldn't grow melons. All the other crops failed because of the drought. We lost our livestock. The sheep, cows and goat died of hunger as there was no water for them." Around the camp, we hear this kind of horrific story repeated. Here,

this man sold his 4-year-old daughter to a 20-year-old man to settle a debt.

It is a world of survival and unimaginable choices where families must betray each other just to live. And winter is ahead, promising to be colder and arid and hungrier, too.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN.


CABRERA: Back here in the U.S., the White House is now asking Supreme Court to take up the administration's transgender military ban. The policy, which the president first tweeted about in July of last year, has so far been blocked by district courts all across the country. Now the administration wants to leapfrog federal appeals courts and go right to the Supreme Court in hopes of getting a decision before the current term ends in June.

That filing comes after the president and Chief Justice John Roberts got into a very public dispute this week about the independence of the judiciary. Roberts taking the president to task for claiming that a recent ruling against the Trump administration was a disgrace from a, quote, "Obama judge."

And as rare as it may be for a Supreme Court justice to comment on a president's behavior, what isn't rare is the president lashing out at judges and the judicial system when things don't go his way.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The courts are not helping us, I have to be honest with you. It's ridiculous.

Somebody said I should not criticize judges. OK, I'll criticize judges.

[17:45:00] I've had ruling after ruling after ruling that's been bad rulings. OK? I've been treated very unfairly.

I have a really big problem with the court system.

It's a bad system, let me tell you.

And I listen to these judges talk and talk and talk. So unfair.

People are screaming break up the Ninth Circuit. I tell you what --


TRUMP: -- that Ninth Circuit, you have to see -- take a look at how many times they have been overturned with their terrible decisions. Take a look.

It's really sad when every single case filed against us is in the Ninth Circuit. We lose, we lose, we lose, and then we do fine at the Supreme Court. What does it tell you about our court system? It's a very, very sad thing.


CABRERA: And here was the comment that prompted the rebuke from Roberts.


TRUMP: Well, you go to the Ninth Circuit and it's a disgrace. And I'll put in a major complaint. This was an Obama judge. And I'll tell you what, it's not going to happen like this anymore.


CABRERA: Roberts then responded, "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for."

On this holiday weekend, we go back to a Florida beach devastated by a hurricane and find people there celebrating all they have to be thankful for.

Your live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:50:56] CABRERA: It has been more than a month now since Hurricane Michael devastated parts of Florida. On this holiday weekend, even amid all the destruction, families are coming together, making sure everyone has a hot meal and a place to feel at home.

CNN's Martin Savidge has the story.


MICHAEL SCOGGINS, MEXICO BEACH RESIDENT & RESTAURANT OWNER: There was a building here, I promise. It was called Killer Seafood.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been more than a month since the hurricane obliterated Mexico Beach.

SCOGGINS: Here, you would be inside the building.

SAVIDGE: But as Michael Scoggins shows me what used to be his restaurant. It's obvious the pain is still fresh.

SCOGGINS: An open kitchen where everybody could see what was going on.

SAVIDGE: Killer Seafood, the town's favorite for years, is gone.

Hal Summers was general manager. He's lost his job and his home. Both men could wallow in self-pity and left town. Instead, they've

decided to help the only way they could. They cooked.

In a church parking lot amidst the roar of the generators, and the smoke of the grill, they began feeding first responders and residents three times a day --


SAVIDGE: --, seven days a week --

UNIDENTFIIED MALE: Do you want a roll?

SAVIDGE: -- for free.

They call it Camp Happy Tummies. Fueled by donations, it provides one of the greatest comforts in dark times, a hot meal.

SUMMERS: This is my planning menu. And this is --


SAVIDGE (on camera): Your menu, right here? Is that made of parchment paper of something?

SUMMERS: That is parchment paper.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): But over the weeks, this tent has come to mean much more than a meal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a safe place to cry. A safe place to let your feelings out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody has a feeling that they're altogether and we're all in this together.

SAVIDGE: At these tables, they have prayed, mourned the dead, even held a wedding reception. Hal and Michael baked the wedding cake. This is a place where folks temporarily escape what lies just outside.

(on camera): Crews are making progress cleaning up. Power, sewage and water are all making a comeback.

But there's still one staggering figure. At least 75 percent of the homes in Mexico Beach have been destroyed.

(voice-over): Camp Happy Tummies is closing. Most of the first responders are gone. Food in Mexico Beach is easier to find.

But before then, Michael and Hal will help prepare one last meal, to be distributed around town for Thanksgiving.

(on camera): Is there a reason to be thankful in Mexico Beach?



SAVIDGE: Even with all the destruction and the loss?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even, even, even.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's why we're still here.

SUMMERS: We have a lot to be thankful for. We have our lives. And we can rebuild. It's just going to take time.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): A month after the hurricane, people here have stopped looking for reasons to be sad. Instead, they're finding reasons to rejoice.

SCOGGINS: Look at that.

SAVIDGE (on camera): There you go.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): To be grateful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a beautiful place and it will come back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's still paradise.

SAVIDGE: Instead of looking back, they're looking forward. In Mexico Beach, they've come to learn that every day is Thanksgiving Day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you all so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are very welcome.

SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN, Mexico Beach, Florida.


CABRERA: Now to another person turning a bad situation into a more positive outcome. No one knows exactly how they would handle sudden live-altering adversity, but we can all hope it's something like this 2018 top-10 "CNN Hero." Amanda Boxtel was an athlete, a dancer and an avid skier. That all changed. And she then turned her pain into purpose.


AMANDA BOXTEL, CNN HERO: Twenty-six years ago I went out skiing and I remember I somersaulted and I landed on my back and I knew in an instant I was paralyzed. But I was determined to show 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. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:55:21] CABRERA: Go to to vote for Amanda or any of your favorite top-10 "CNN Heroes."

I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. I will see you back here in one hour.

My colleague, S.E. Cupp, continues our coverage of today's news right after a quick break.