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CNN NEWSROOM

Extensive Damage After 7.0 Earthquake Near Anchorage, Alaska; Putin And Embattled Saudi Crown Prince Share Laughs at The G20 Summit; Michael Cohen Has Talked with Mueller Invesitgators for 70-Plus Hours. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 30, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: In the wake of this 7.0 magnitude earthquake in the Anchorage, Alaska area, there has been one military base significantly impacted. Ryan Browne is our Pentagon correspondent. What do you know?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, the base is Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson it's just north of Anchorage. We're being told it has been impacted by this earthquake. There's been some damage to some water lines. A full damage assessment is still being carried out. To the runway, some of the power supply. I have spoken to some officials at the base. They say the missions at the base are ongoing. This is a very critical base. There are some 13,000 US military personnel stationed at this base.

You have Air Force personnel who fly F-22 jets, help patrol the skies near the Alaska/Russia border. So, it is a very critical base. It's going on. A damage assessment is ongoing. Critical base personnel were recalled in an emergency situation. And the governor of Alaska has announced that this base will be the headquarters for the incident response center that the state is conducting with the commander of the National Guard. This base very critical but impacted to some extent, the extent of that damage still being assessed by base personnel.

BALDWIN: Got it. Ryan, thank you. We'll stay in contact with you as they continue that assessment. As far as roads and bridges, Nick Watt, I was talking to one woman who was basically stuck in her home because she was describing outside of the gate, presumably she was in an apartment complex, or maybe even on a base. There is a sinkhole. So, what's the status of the roads right now?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we have heard about that sinkhole. We've also heard about a partial road collapse near the airport, we've heard of rock slides and we have heard of roads closed, I'm estimating 20 or 30 miles away from the epicenter of that initial quake. And as we have been reporting there are going to be, there have been in there will continue to be these aftershocks. One so far up at 5.8 now. We are hearing from the Kenai School District which is just south of the epicenter. All kids there are OK. We hear that the Alaska pipeline so far, no damage connected on that huge North South oil pipeline in the state. Also,

air traffic control is now back open, Alaska Airline says there's no injuries to staff or guests as far as they're concerned. In their hospitals as I've mentioned before, the emergency rooms into hospitals still open. Some superficial damage to those hospitals. In teams are still out assessing it. When you listen to these people's eyewitness testimony. I've been through a few shakers here in Southern California, also in central Asia, and seconds feel like minutes. And also, to see the walls of your house which you are very used to seeing standing tall and solid, seeing those move like that, it is an exceptionally disturbing situation to find yourself in.

BALDWIN: I can imagine. Nick Watt, thank you. As we have been talking so many different people describing what it felt like, what it sounded like. I spoke to a woman named Gabby Black. She was in Anchorage this morning at breakfast time, was waiting on tables and still shaking as she was talking to me describing what it was like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GABRIELLE BLACK, FELT 7.0 EARTHQUAKE IN ANCHORAGE, ALASKA: I've been in Alaska my whole life and it was absolutely terrifying. The beginning, we are taking orders and you feel this, you hear it, you feel it and we're looking around thinking it won't be that big is going to pass. As things get worse, things start

falling. And so immediately I, you know, pushed everything that's under the counter out and went in there and all my co-workers were yelling, "get under the table." In case there were people that weren't from Alaska, if they didn't know what to do to get under the tables to be safe but I'm still shaking. Can you probably hear it in my voice? I'm too scared it's going to happen again. But it was terrifying.

BALDWIN: So, wow, so you're taking orders -- we should back up and say, you work at Middle Way Cafe, and it was breakfast time, how many people were around you and what was everyone else's reaction once it started?

BLACK: So, people around me, there was probably about 15 customers in the restaurant, in the cafe. And I was working with about maybe five people up front, and then there was definitely about seven people in the kitchen. And I was taking an order from a man when it happened, he was ordering breakfast, it started shaking, we look at each other kind of thinking, what do we do? You know, is this serious?

[15:35:00] And after when you started feeling that shaking and you have seen the lights swing and coffee grounds and glass breaking and things shattering, is when just immediately drop to your knees and try and find the most safest area to go in. Thankfully for us we have really good counters to go underneath. And at that point you are just under their holding your neck hoping that it would stop and hoping that everyone you love is OK. And saying your prayers. And like I said we were just shouting out, get under the tables, in case anyone from out of state was unaware of what to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, we have much more on this breaking news, this earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska. Also had here on CNN, spooked and completely distracted. What sources are telling CNN about President Trump's mindset and the high stakes of the G20 summit. All of this as the Special Counsel Robert Mueller news unfolds with the whole world watching, this high five happened. We will take a closer look coming up.

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: We'll get you back to our earthquake coverage in Alaska in just a moment. Let's go to Buenos Aires where President Trump and the Saudi Crown Prince just "exchanged pleasantries" at the G20 Summit. President Trump says they did not discuss anything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President what did you discuss with MBS?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had no discussion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Of course, there's been a lot of debate about how world leaders should handle their reactions with the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the wake of the murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi. As the annual class photo there this morning, the strategy seemed to be keep your distance. A couple of handshakes. But no one seemed happier to see the crown prince than Russian President Vladimir Putin. Have you seen this video? Standby and we will play it for you. Boom.

What is that? A high five? All smiles and laughter like long-lost buddies. But this video isn't as stunning as it is chilling. Both men accused of murdering journalists who are critical of their policies. Wolf Blitzer is in Buenos Aries, Argentina covering this G20 summit and Wolf, just beginning with the smile and high five between these two, when you first saw that, what did you think?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Well, it was very different, Brooke, from everyone else. Almost all of the other leaders, they were very cool Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. They didn't necessarily walk away from the him, they didn't completely ignore him by any means, but there were no high fives, no major smiles along the lines of what we saw with President Putin and the Saudi crown prince. They clearly were very happy to see each other and they probably are having some substantive discussions as well. The question still remains, how much more will the President of the United States, how much more time will he have with the Saudi crown prince on the sidelines as they say of this G20 summit and we will see if anything develops along those lines. But it is pretty extraordinary to see that very warm, robust exchange between the Saudi leader and the Russian leader.

BALDWIN: The exchange, the smiles and then you have President Trump's as it has been described "pleasantries" with the Saudi crown prince. The fact that MBS is there at all, potential optics nightmare for any world leaders there. How are other world leaders handling this?

BLITZER: They're trying to be distant, some more than others. They all, like President Trump maintains, they all have various degrees of strategic cooperation, economic ties, military ties with the Saudis. But on the other hand, they're all very, very angry at the Saudis for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That's being underscored here at this G20 summit. We'll see how it unfolds over the next few hours. There's going to be a major dinner later tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow there is going to be all sorts of other activities. We're anticipating President Trump will have some sort of formal news conference when all is said and done here in Buenos Aires. But it's been an awkward moment to put it mildly.

BALDWIN: Sources tell CNN that President Trump is, quote unquote spooked and completely distracted by all these growing headlines that we've been covering this week, Robert Muller, what happened to the plea deal with his former fixer Michael Cohen. While he is there in Argentina, we know he cancel that meeting that was scheduled to happen with Vladimir Putin. Is he being more transparent about this and why?

BLITZER: He's insisting the reason the cancelled the meeting as he left Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington, D.C., and was on Air Force One within a half an hour he cancelled the meeting. He insists the sole reason was because of the Russian aggression as he describes it involving Ukraine and the ships, the sailors.

[15:45:00] Listen to how the President explained cancelling what was supposed to be a two-hour meeting with the Russian leader.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're not happy about it. Nobody is. Hopefully they'll be able to settle it out. We look forward to meeting with President Putin. But on the basis of what took place with respect to the ships and the sailors, that was the sole reason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He said the sole reason for cancelling the meeting, was what's going, the tension between Ukraine and Russia but it happened half an hour or so not very long after the president learned that his long-time lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen had entered into a plea agreement with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller and was talking about all sorts of activities that the Trump Organization was having during the first half of 2016, trying to work out some sort of Trump Tower project in Moscow. And so, there's a lot of concern and the President clearly is worried about what's going on. You got a long- time aide like Michael Cohen who is fully cooperating with the -- 70 hours, Brooke, of conversation, 70 hours of Q & A that Michael Cohen has now provided to the special counsel. He worked with him for more than a decade. He knows a lot.

The President is clearly upset about that and his aides are making it clear he's upset. Although the President continues to insist there was nothing wrong, nothing improper about talking with the Russians about a potential Trump Tower in Moscow. So, he's trying to put his best foot forward on that point but clearly behind the scenes there's deep concern.

BALDWIN: Wolf Blitzer, live in Argentina, we'll look for you in a special "SITUATION ROOM" at 5:00 eastern on CNN. Thank you, sir, good to see you. More in our breaking news out of Alaska, new details about the damage and the aftermath from this major 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: More now on the fallout of Michael Cohen's plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller after Cohen admits to lying to Congress about how much he apprised candidate Trump of the Moscow Trump Tower project. With me, Garrett Graff, who wrote the book, "The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller's FBI and the War on Global Terror."

Garrett Graff, good to see you this Friday. I know you and I were exchanging e-mails earlier today and you were saying to me, the biggest news to come from all of these headlines this week is Cohen's plea. The fact that Cohen has sat with Mueller for 70 hours all together -- 7-0. He's revealing more than just this Moscow Trump Tower deal. What else do you think he's revealing?

GARRETT GRAFF, AUTHOR, "THE THREAT MATRIX: INSIDE ROBERT MUELLER'S FBI AND THE WAR ON GLOBAL TERROR": Yes. This is a great question. And it goes at one of the things a lot of people forget, which is just how much material Bob Mueller has gathered over the course of these 17 months. Remember, all of those documents, all of the different physical cell phones that he gathered from Michael Cohen's law office during that raid earlier this spring. Mueller has amassed this incredible amount of material from all sorts of people. And someone like Michael Cohen is able to come in and help explain what it all means. He's able to help piece together lots of documents, get inside the heads of the people who were in the room at various meetings. And remember, Michael Cohen has worked with Donald Trump for a decade. So, this is someone who knows almost everything there is to know about how Donald Trump operates, who he operates with and, you know, the proverbial where the bodies are buried.

BALDWIN: Mueller is also leaving, as you describe, these public bread crumbs in his filings that are perhaps signs of things to come. How do you mean?

GRAFF: Yes. So, you know, Bob Mueller is using each of these court documents as an opportunity to push a lot of material into public view. And in those ten pages of Michael Cohen's plea agreement, he was able to cram in a lot of new information that transformed our understanding. Some of it, it seems like the significance we might not yet know. One of the most relevant things that jumped out at me was that the Trump Tower/Moscow project, according to Michael Cohen, appears to have died on June 14th, 2016. A very specific date and a specific conversation that Bob Mueller cites in the plea agreement.

What Mueller doesn't say in the plea agreement is that June 14th, 2016, is the same date that the DNC hack becomes public for the first time. And remember, it's just about a week after that Trump Tower meeting with Paul Manafort, Don Jr., Jared Kushner and all of the Russians who show up saying that they're there to help Trump. So, this is turning into a very consequential period of time in June 2016. And it doesn't seem like it's probably entirely a coincidence that Trump Tower/Moscow died on the same day that the DNC hack was revealed if Bob Mueller is going out of his way in these court filings to make that argument.

[15:55:00] BALDWIN: Garrett Graff, what a week it's been.

GRAFF: Amazing.

BALDWIN: And at least with these -- as you point out, these public court filings, just because Matt Whitaker is now this acting attorney general and everybody thought, well, what would that mean for the Russia investigation and Bob Mueller, clearly, he's going to get so much out there publicly that we will see the -- the public will be able to see what's developing throughout. Garrett Graff, thank you. We will speak again, I'm sure.

In the meantime, we have more on our breaking news out of Alaska. New details about the damage and the aftermath from this major earthquake that hit the Anchorage area right around 8:30 local time. Quick break, we'll be right back.

[16:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Major earthquake rattling Alaska around 8:30 this morning is when it hit local time. We've been covering reports of widespread damage. My colleague, Jake Tapper, will pick it up from here. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. "THE LEAD" starts right now.