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PG&E Faces Potential $15 Billion Already In Liability For The 2017 Wine Country Fires And Could Face Much, Much More For This Year; Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Perhaps The Most Interesting Man In The World And The One We Know Relatively Little About. Aired: 6-7p ET
Aired December 30, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:14] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ryan Nobles in tonight for Ana Cabrera in New York.
Finally this weekend some words from the President about the pressing issues facing the country today. Words that weren't ticked out by the President himself on twitter. His thoughts on the government shutdown that left so many American families without paycheck. And his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.
We are hearing it though from Senator Lindsey Graham who flew up from South Carolina this morning to have lunch at the White House and to use his words ask the President to reconsider his plan to withdraw American forces from Syria.
CNN's Sarah Westwood is outside the white House right now.
Sarah, did Lindsey Graham successfully persuade the President to change his mind?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Ryan, Senator Graham said he felt much better about President Trump's decision to remove the troops from Syria after the conversation with President Trump. Recalled that Graham was (INAUDIBLE) critic of the President's decision to bring those troops home.
Graham said that the President signaled he might be open to slowing things down when it comes to a troop withdrawal. One that critics had feared could be too swift and leave a power vacuum in Syria. And he said that after his conversation with President Trump, he felt that the President and his generals had settled on plan that made sense to him. Take a listen.
And what Graham said was that the President was putting a pause of some sort on the decision to pull the troops back. That's despite the fact that earlier this week President Trump said any rock that the generals had come to him repeatedly to request more times to prepare for his proposed troop withdrawal but the President had turned down those requests. And Graham said that the President would be willing to take a look at slowing things down until ISIS is defeated in Syria. That's despite the fact that the President has sided the victory in the work against ISIS. That's the reason for his decision to bring the troops home in the first place.
So clearly some confusing signals from the White House. Right now, we are hearing this from Graham, not the President. But this could signal a shift in his thinking, Ryan.
NOBLES: Yes. And we are not 100 percent. Not sure exactly what Lindsey Graham meant by that pause, the difference between the slowdown and how that all place itself out. We will have to see how that shakes it out.
But that's not the only thing that Lindsey Graham was talking about, Sarah. He also talked about the President's willingness to make a deal with Democrats to get the government started again. Did he and Senator Graham talk about that?
WESTWOOD: They did, Ryan. Graham said that he pitched an idea to President Trump that he described this a potential breakthrough where to gain traction. And that's trading $5 billion in wall funding for temporary renewal of protection for the so called Dreamers. Those young undocumented immigrants protected by DACA.
Now those kinds of trades have been tried and failed on Capitol Hill before. But Graham suggested that the President was open minded about the possibility of such a trade. Democratic congressional leaders have not been invited back to the White House for further negotiations.
But incoming acting chief of staff/budget director Mick Mulvaney has suggested that President Trump might be willing to back down after that $5 billion number. It's not clear by how much. But there are now a few different passes out of shutdown on the table. Still, not a lot of clarity, Ryan, about what Democratic leaders might be willing to discuss so the shutdown could last into the next week, Ryan.
NOBLES: OK. Sarah Westwood live at the White House with a view of things happening there.
I want to play something else that Senator Lindsey Graham played outside the White House. And it specifically about President Trump's border wall. The very thing the President said he will keep the government shutdown over until he gets. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The wall has become a metaphor for border security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: OK. So the wall is apparently now a metaphor. This is similar to what outgoing chief of staff John Kelly said in an interview released earlier today. Kelly telling the "Los Angeles Times" quote "to be honest, it's not a wall."
But the President didn't specify just last night when he tweeted quote "border patrol needs the wall." Not steel slats, not enhanced border security, but he is talking about a physical wall here. At least I think he is.
With us now to talk about this, CNN political analyst Michael Shear and Karoun Demirjian. Michael, White House correspondent for "The New York Times" and Karoun is a congressional reporter for "the Washington Post."
I mean, guys, it seems confusing. I don't think we are the only ones confused by all of this. And one day we have gone from President Trump wanting a wall to a wall being on composing metaphor for border security.
So Karoun, what is the government actually shutdown over right now? Is it a penetrable wall, steel slats or just a metaphor?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's a very good question. I think it is what's whatever exists in between all of those definitions that are swirling around right now to get to the heart of border security. Thing that the President wants.
He has certainly been calling it a wall. The conservative media and his base have been calling it a wall. It seems like there's a lot of spinning right now happening from the people that are trying to bridge the gap between the President and Capitol Hill. Be that Kellyanne Conway or General Kelly or Lindsey Graham at this point.
But the GOP on Capitol Hill does not believe in the wall the way the President believes in the wall. They have heard over a decade on how to mindset of yes, you need to step up border security, but that it's a mixed bag of things that you do. They actually improved security at the border. You cannot actually have a physical concrete barrier along the whole U.S.-Mexico border just topographically didn't work.
[18:05:38] NOBLES: Right.
DEMIRJIAN: And so the GOP has been looking for a way to spin Trump's desire for wall for a long time. It seems like they actually got there in mid-December when, you know, the Senate was willing to go along with this clean extension and then Trump changed his mind. He didn't want any more under pressure from the more conservative wing of his base.
So how we define this going forward, it seems like we are in a position where they are trying to pivot a bit away from this, you know, hardened fast, holding on to the wall to create something for compromise because they are going to have to compromise.
Democrats will have more leverage heading into the New Year because they will have control of the House. And it will be an issue of getting the GOP in the Senate and the White House on the same page. And for that, they have to come closer to something they can all agree on. And that's not just a wall and nothing else.
NOBLES: I mean, you have to imagine now, American people sitting at home so frustrated by this because they see politicians fighting back and forth over something that they themselves cannot even define. I think this is part of what drives Americans so crazy. And Michael, to that point, back in January, General Kelly made
similar comments. He said the President's views on the wall had evolved and the President went right to twitter to contradict his chief of staff.
He wrote quote "the wall is the wall. It's never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it."
So what is it now? Are Trump's advisors now speaking for him or to him? I mean, what are the chances that the President corrects Kelly and Graham later tonight. Are we going to see a tweet tomorrow morning? I mean, what's the possibility of that?
MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Look. I think that's entirely possible. I think this is, my sense is this is wishful thinking on the parts of people like Graham and Kelly. Both of whom have always been much less part of the physical wall construct that the President created during the campaign to help get himself elected.
And the idea that the President is willing to give on this piece of what was such a central part of his Presidential campaign, even if you think he's inclined to do that, he is surrounded himself with real immigration hard liners who the minute he strays from this, they bring him back. They bring him back into the fold and that's when you see him go onto twitter and, you know, appeal to his base again. So I think, you know, I'm highly skeptical that we are going to get to a kind of everybody is happy compromise like senator Graham talked about this afternoon in which both sides give a little and everybody comes together and seems Kumbaya. I just don't see that happening at least in the near future.
NOBLES: All right. So Karoun, to that point, let's say the President has evolved on this. Maybe he wants slats, maybe he wants fencing in some areas. Maybe he wants better technology and others. More border patrol agents. I mean, that isn't what Democrats - is that what Democrats want too? I mean, if he has evolved the certain point, is that enough to bring Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to the table?
DEMIRJIAN: Probably not. I mean, look. Democrats are not in a mood right now to give the President something for nothing. They have to negotiate with him from this point forward whether it's for the next two years or longer than that. They have to set the tone now.
And remember, if we think back a year ago we were talking about $25 billion in exchange for the DACA program, taking care of these young people who came to the country as undocumented children. We are talking about a much smaller gap of dollars right now. We are talking about single digits billions at the most, right. That's not huge when we are talking about the whole federal budget. But it's huge when you talk about the idea of giving the President something and not demanding something he wants without demanding something in return.
So do Democrats want more security? Yes, they do. They voted for it in the past as part of comprehensive immigration bill that have made up to the Senate but not the House. So the idea the Democrat backing a mixed border security plan not unfathomable at all. In fact, I think most of them would actually vote for it but not alone. They want to package that with something else that extends the hand of (INAUDIBLE) or friendliness or what have you to the immigrants that are in the country without legal status. And they want to solve that problem at the same time because the go together. And especially with everything that is happening at the border with family separation and the deaths of these children, I don't think you are going to see Democrats willingly back off of their demand for something in exchange for stepped up border security unless it is really marginal any time soon.
NOBLES: All right. Let's move from one topic where we don't apparently know exactly where the White House stands to another topic where we apparently don't know where the White House stands. And that is the situation in Syria.
Today, Lindsey Graham said that he went to the White House with the specific goal of changing the President's mind on withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria. He left saying something that the President have told him that some things he wasn't aware of that made him feel better. You know, Graham, of course, a sitting U.S. senator. He is on the armed services committee. He is obviously a hawk.
I mean, Karoun, what could the President have possibly said that he didn't already know and that could have changed his mind so dramatically? I mean, I was up there on Capitol Hill when Lindsey Graham was railing about this. He was almost on the verge of tears. And I don't say that (INAUDIBLE). How could his mind have been changed so much by a simple lunch with the President today?
[18:10:43] DEMIRJIAN: I'm not - I have not been covering that lunch. I was not (INAUDIBLE), although, we have been fascinating to be one. So I don't know quite. Although, Lindsey Graham was looking for way to not have to completely the President also. And he has spoken very, very strongly to tell publicly at least about that decision.
But the President - right now, the question is not one of process. The President is not one to put out his words like that over something so dramatic as putting the troops out and do a total 180 and say mea culpa (ph). He doesn't say mea culpa (ph).
So if he is saying, well, that's still the goal, perhaps that this is a question of him having said, OK, we can talk about the time line. We can talk about the means of drawing down. Because what everybody has said is look. We want to get to the point of actually pulling the troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. This is not supposed to be a forever sort of solution. But we want to do it the right way.
So perhaps, the way that they are discussing right now is something they could have actually, you know, settle Graham, stomach a little more or at least given Republicans a way to bridge that gap between absolutely hating what the President said and being able to still stand with him and kind of make it OK instead of having an open night the GOP which they don't want.
NOBLES: Yes. Michael, the President could come out at any time. He could speak at
any time. Instead, he tweets throughout the day. Why are so many people close to him having a hard time explaining what he really means? Why don't we hear from the President himself? He, more than anyone, could clarify where he stands on these big issues.
SHEAR: Right. Well, I mean, look. Sometimes we hear from him so much and all that anybody wants is for him to put his phone down and shut up and not be on twitter so much. That said, look. I mean, I think one of the problems with Lindsey Graham as the conveyor of Presidential information is that you have to -- he's not a perfect vessel for that because he has his own issues.
Often Lindsey Graham in the past has wavered between on the one hand being a critic of the President and on the other hand wanting to curry favor. Play golf with him all the time and really laud him as a wonderful leader. And you don't know what Lindsey Graham's game is when he - which -- is he a Presidential critic? Is he a presidential, you know, kind of fan boy? And so you don't quite know.
I think this, especially on the Syria question where the President has been getting a lot of incoming from all sides, from foreign leaders, from military officials, from lawmakers of both parties, I think this is one where we really should wait until we hear the words come out of President Trump's mouth. I am willing to slowdown or back off a little bit on this Syria pull out. When we hear that directly from the President, then I think, you know, they will be something to take to the bank. Hearing it from Lindsey Graham, I'm not so sure.
NOBLES: You know, Michael, you talk about the people that have an agenda. They talk to President Trump. You could say that about Lindsey Graham. You could say that to about General Kelly. You could say that about Kellyanne Conway. I mean, that is part of the problem here. There isn't a consistent is message because it seems as though each and every one of these actors has their own idea about what should happen.
SHEAR: And that's really different from previous White Houses because one of the things that most White Houses try to do is to impose a kind of message discipline in which the people around the President are on the same page as the President as much as possible. It doesn't always happen perfectly but this White House is particularly bad at it.
NOBLES: Yes, no doubt.
Michael, Karoun, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it.
DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.
NOBLES: And no one has a good answer for what to do with the illegal immigrants that are already in our country, especially the children. Many of whom who are here through no fault of their own and caught in horrible situations.
One of those was recently exposed in Arizona where a disturbing video is leading to allegations of abuse.
CNN correspondent Nick Valencia is live in El Paso.
Nick, what can you tell us about this video?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we should warn our viewers that this is absolutely disturbing. And some of you might find it, I should say, disturbing. It was first reported by the Arizona republic who open -- requested open records from the Arizona department of health services. And it shows mid-September incidents involving staffers at the Hacienda del Sol, facility run by Southwest Key in Youngtown, Arizona. It shows that pushing, shoving and even dragging these small undocumented migrants.
This was reported, as we understand it, to local law enforcement by Southwest Key as well as federal officials. And the Maricopa County sheriff's office investigated. They concluded that there was no criminal charges. But overnight we are getting a new statement and it seemed to have changed here.
This is what they said in part of that statement, Ryan. Reading, based upon the evidence gathered during this thorough investigation, MCSO executive command has made the decision to submit the case to the Maricopa County attorney's office for its review and determination of criminal charges. They go on to day the case will be submitted on Monday and further questions about this matter should be directed to the county attorney.
After these incidents were brought to light, two of those staffers were fired. Another was disciplined. And the Southwest key spokesman released a statement saying that he welcomed the decision by the office of refugee resettlement to have that shelter, the Hacienda Del sol shelter closed. Now though, we are seeing this video and it's coming to light. More details are emerging. And there's another dark stain on the story of migrants here in the United States -- Ryan.
[18:15:45] NOBLES: All right. Nick Valencia, live near in the southern border there in El Paso, Texas.
Nick, thank you for that report.
Put up or shut up. That's New Year's message from the President's lawyer to Robert Mueller. He is also suggesting the special counsel's embarrassed over the collusion question.
And speaking of 2019, just what can we expect from the special counsel in the coming year? We will discuss that, next.
[18:19:13] NOBLES: Put up or shut up. That's Rudy Giuliani's message for special counsel Robert Mueller today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: My ultimatum is put up or shut up, Bob. I mean, you know, what do you have? There are those of us who believe you don't have anything on collusion. And by the way, if you did, it is not a crime. So what the heck are you doing?
Do you have anything that shows the President of the United States was involved in a conspiracy to hack a DNC with Russia? Of course you don't. But if you do, put out a report or give it to the justice department. Let them review it and make sure it is not classified or whatever. Put out a report. We are ready to rebut it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And joining us now to talk about this, attorney Randy Zelin.
Randy, like Rudy Giuliani, you too are defense attorney. Is this how you would talk about or to someone investigating your client?
RANDY ZELIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hell no. And I will tell you when Mr. Rudy Giuliani was the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, no one would dare speak like that about him or any of his assistants. We are living in unprecedented times. You don't speak with such disrespect. You don't speak with such, go ahead. This is not law and order. Where, hey, if you go something, charge my guy, otherwise, leave him alone.
[18:20:28] NOBLES: Right.
ZELIN: In real life, OK. I see you and I raise you. We don't behave like this as a defense bar.
NOBLES: And you know, it's not as though Mueller hasn't produced things, right. He has put up despite what Rudy Giuliani says. Thirty six people and entities have been charged. There are seven guilty pleas, one conviction, four prison sentences, this seems like a pretty good track record for a prosecutor, isn't it?
ZELIN: Well, as far as Mr. Rudy Giuliani and his client, the President of the United States are concerned, it really shouldn't mean anything. But we are so focused and so caught up on the spins and the reading of the tea leaves.
The way the criminal justice system is supposed to work, federal practice. You can tell prosecutor to put up or shut up. You just don't say it. What you do is you go, you meet behind closed doors. This is not for the world to see. This is not for the cameras to see. This is not how we behave because we are not acting in our client's best interest. We may be acting in our own best interest getting face time and everybody knowing our name and we are real big shots. But that is not what clients want. Clients want this done quietly, calmly, coolly, because man, if the government calls my bluff, it's not bad for me. It's bad for my client.
NOBLES: Right. You know, to that point, one of Mr. Rudy Giuliani's constant complaints is Mueller has not shown us evidence of collusion. I mean, would that be how it normally works if you are in the midst of an investigation? Would you publicly reveal evidence that you have against a client that you are investigating and could potentially prosecute?
ZELIN: Absolutely not. But what does happen and again, we live in such unprecedented times. Often times a seasoned prosecutor will welcome a defense attorney to come in. Sometimes even with the defense attorney's client. It's called a reverse proffer. And what that means in simple terms is it's a prosecutor saying come on in. Bring your client if you want. And I'm going the show you how I'm going to destroy your client. So if you want to resolve things, now would be a good time to engage in productive conversation. But that gets done behind closed doors with no fanfare, with no huffing and puffing and pontificating and posturing. You go in. You sit in a conference room. The assistant will be there with the agents and they are happy the try the case informally in a conference room because for them, a conviction is a conviction whether it's by plea or by trial. There's just a lot less work. And if a plea may come with cooperation, that just gets you more convictions.
NOBLES: So does it have anything to do with Robert Mueller being embarrassed as Rudy Giuliani is suggesting?
ZELIN: Hell no.
NOBLES: Twice I have gotten you to say that in this interview. That's a good sign.
Now Trump's original attorney said that this investigation was supposed to be done last thanksgiving. At least that was his view. That was more than a year ago. I mean, could there be an end to this investigation at some point? Could it be in 2019?
ZELIN: It is, of course, very, very difficult to say. When Mr. Giuliani spends a lot of time talking about Russia, as we all know, this has become more than just about Russia. And the special prosecutor's mandate is not necessarily just about Russia. We have talked about this so many times.
If the special prosecutor uncovers evidence of other crime, he doesn't put blinders on and say I can't see that. No, no, no. That's not what I here for. That's not the way that it works. So again, it should be enough with the playing for the cameras and the sound bites.
This is serious, serious, stuff. This is tearing our country apart. We have become so partisan that the Democrats say it's light out so the Republicans have to say it is dark out.
ZELIN: And in the meantime we all live under this cloud of not knowing what's happening. This is being done. It's like the human body is being turned inside out and we are seeing the inside of someone's body. That's not the way it's supposed to go. And I just fear that all of this, I dare you, OK. Game on.
NOBLES: All right, Randy Zelin, thank you for your perspective. We appreciate it.
ZELIN: Thank you.
NOBLES: Wall Street is wrapping up one of the worst months it has had since the great depression. So what might 2019 have in store for markets?
Alison Kosik has this week's before the bell.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ryan. This week marks the first day of the new trading year and investors are looking for a fresh start. Now, there's still one trading day left for 2018 but the stock market will likely end the year lower and is on track for the worst December since 1931.
Stocks often rally in December but this isn't a typical December. Huge swings in both directions have sent investigators heads spinning. Last week the Dow had its worst ever Christmas Eve Monday only to pose its best ever point game when trading resumed Wednesday.
Wall Street want certainty and there are still a ton of questions about slowing global growth, trade tension, rising interest rates and political uncertainty. Still, the fundamentals are strong. We will see the latest read when the final jobs report for 2018 releases this week.
In November, the U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs. The unemployment rate held at 3.7 percent. A 49-year low and wages grew by 3.1 percent. Did the labor market strengthen even more in December? We'll find out on Friday.
In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.
[18:25:55] NOBLES: Alison, thank you.
Coming up, California's largest utility could face murder or manslaughter charges for their role in California's deadliest wildfires ever. Details ahead live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[18:29:33] NOBLES: There's talk of breaking up California's largest power company for its possible negligence in some of this year's catastrophic wildfires. But that is the least of the problems potentially facing Pacific Gas and Electric.
Miguel Marquez is here to show us how the utility could face murder and manslaughter charges after this year's tragedy.
How does that work, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, there's a lot of if, ands buts and a lot of maybes and all of those as well. But basically, a federal judge overseeing PG&E's probation for an earlier opinion has asked for possible California charges in the event recklessness in the company's part is found in this year's campfire which killed 86 people. That's the deadliest in California history. Now, the California Attorney General recommended a range of possible
charges, everything from misdemeanors. For example, that PG&E didn't maintain vegetation in power lines in fire prone areas, or possible felonies and misdemeanors if PG&E actually started the fire. Finally, there could be manslaughter or even homicide charges what are called implied malice murder - but all of these depends on the degree of recklessness that might be found on the company's behalf if there was an investigation in these fires. There are several investigations pending.
Now, the Federal judge, William Alsup oversees PG&E's probation for six felonies the company was convicted of the 2010 San Bruno gas explosion where eight people died. PG&E did not respond directly to the AG's opinion in this case, but said in a statement, "PG&E's most important responsibility is public and work force safety. Our focus continues to be on assessing our infrastructure to further enhance safety and helping our customer continue to recover and rebuild. Throughout our service area, we are committed to doing everything we can to help further reduce the risk of wildfire."
Now, there are enormous stakes for PG&E in all of this. One of the nation's largest gas and electric utilities. The company faces potential $15 billion already in liability for the 2017 Wine Country fires and could face much, much more for this year.
PG&E says that it's already implemented new and enhanced safety measures including upgrading its vegetation management efforts, conducting accelerated safety inspections and in some cases turning off the electric power when extreme conditions are forecast. All this happening against the stark background in California as California, the state, the utility companies including PG&E all looking at a future of increased and more extreme fire activity as the west becomes much hotter, much drier and much more combustible.
RYAN NOBLES, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: All right, Miguel Marquez, thank you. We appreciate it.
MARQUEZ: You bet.
NOBLES: Well, if there's skepticism among critics to PG&E's response to this year's devastating wildfires, CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin shows us why you only need to take a closer look back at last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
NORMA QUINTANA, NAPA, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: This area was my studio with big windows.
DREW GRIFFIN, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: This is all Norma Quintana has left of the home she lived in for 30 years, a macabre reminder of the day her physical world turned to ashes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUINTANA: The fire was behind us. (END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: She and her family had five minutes to escape the Atlas fire in the fall of 2017. When they returned, it was all gone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUINTANA: I couldn't negotiate the loss. I couldn't negotiate the loss of a home. I couldn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Across Northern California, the fires in October of 2017 fueled by high winds and drought would kill 44, burn 8,900 homes and other buildings. As the burning ended, the burning question began, how did this happen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES ENGEL, CHIEF WILDFIRE INVESTIGATOR, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY AND FIRE PROTECTION: We had a number of fires that were the result of some type of ignition from power lines.
GRIFFIN: CAL FIRE investigators concluded that 17 of the 18 fires in October of 2017 were caused by equipment from Pacific Gas and Electric, the multibillion-dollar power company. In 11 of those claims, investigators found evidence PG&E violated state law.
James Engel oversees fire investigations for CAL FIRE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Is PG&E doing enough, in your mind?
ENGEL: Well, that's not my call to make to win. In the case of those particular fires, they were - they were referred to the District Attorney if there's violations of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: It's actually been going on now for years -- 1994, 1999, 2004. The Whiskey Fire in 2008. The deadly Butte Fire in 2015.
Fire after fire that investigators found were caused by a power company failing to follow state regulations to trim trees or maintain equipment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN FISKE, ATTORNEY, BARON & BUDD, P.C.: You see a pattern and practice that PG&E is not willing to step up to the plate and do what it needs to do to prevent these utility-caused wildfires.
(END VIDEO CLIP) GRIFFIN: Attorney John Fiske has built a practice suing power
companies and specifically, PG&E, for causing fires that are destroying Californian's lives. He's doing it, he says, because the state of California won't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FISKE: And if you had a company that was out in the Atlantic and it kept starting hurricanes and the government just kind of continued to let it start hurricanes, again, you'd consider that behavior to be almost sociopathic because people's lives are absolutely devastated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: PG&E was convicted of six felonies because of a gas pipeline explosion in 2010.
GRIFFIN: And just last month, the President of California Public Utilities Commission announced a new review of PG&E, telling "The Wall Street Journal" he was very concerned they (PG&E) still don't have accountability in place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Is PG&E getting the message, do you think?
ENGEL: I think you're going to have to ask them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: We tried, but the company declined and instead, sent a lengthy statement saying it expanded its Community Wildfire Safety Program, improving real-time monitoring, enhancing vegetation management efforts, conducting accelerated safety inspections, installing stronger and more resilient poles.
Critics point to the way PG&E has spent its money, awarding its CEO salary and stock work $8.5 million in 2017, and spending another $8 million lobbying lawmakers in Sacramento to get a law passed that allows PG&E to pass some of the cost of the fires on to customers.
Now, PG&E is dealing with this. Last month's Camp Fire in Northern California killed 86 and destroyed the town of Paradise. Equipment from PG&E is being investigated as a possible cause.
Attorney John Fiske says it has to stop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FISKE: You know, in these wildfires, oftentimes the most vulnerable members of our community are affected because they're immobile and they cannot get out. That's how devastating these wildfires are. That's why it's so important that these companies change their practices. It's a matter of life and death. (END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Asked specifically about the state investigative reports that found the company violated state law in 11 of those deadly fires last year, PG&E would only say it's looking forward to reviewing those reports. Prosecutors are reviewing them, too, and deciding if they will, again, pursue criminal charges against the massive power company.
In the meantime, the homeowners, like Norma Quintana in our report, who lost her home, are suing PG&E.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
NOBLES: Coming up, insight into Special Counsel Robert Mueller from those who know him the best.
But first, Gilda Radner who was a superstar whose groundbreaking comedy made millions laugh and whose hard fought battle with cancer raised awareness about the disease. The new CNN film "Love, Gilda" airing New Year's Day gives a special access to Gilda's diaries, photos and home videos to tell her story in her own words.
A virtual letter from Gild to the audience. Some of the biggest female names in comedy have been so inspired by Gilda's life and work, they wanted to send a message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GILDA RADNER, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: Hi, I'm Gilda Radner, and okay, now.
FRAN DRESCHER, AMERICAN COMEDDIAN: Dear Gilda, hi, it's me Fran Drescher.
YVETTE NICOLE BROWN, AMERICAN ACTRESS: Dear Gilda.
CAROL BURNETT, AMERICAN ACTRESS: Dear Gilda, I loved watching you on "Saturday Night Live."
TRACEY ULLMAN, ENGLISH ACTRESS: Gilda Radner was a huge inspiration to me.
RACHEL BLOOM, AMERICAN ACTRESS: When I was about nine, I saw the sketch "The Judy Miller Show." It inspired me to write my own one- person comedy sketch. It was directly because of you.
BROWN: Thank you for teaching us that it's okay to be un unapologetically whacky and and fearless.
RADNER: Dear Roseanne, Roseanne --
BROWN: You blazed the trail for so many of us and I am so grateful.
ULMAN: She was this incredibly funny girl who's like equal to the guys.
DRESCHER: I started to experience gynecologic cancer symptoms. I kept talking about you and your symptoms and then I survived and then I thrived.
ULMAN: Gilda Rader was a bloody great girl.
BURNETT: Not only were you brilliantly funny, you had a terrific soul.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Love, Gilda," New Year's Day at 9:00 p.m.
NOBLES: He doesn't always investigate presidents, but when he does, he likes complete silence. Here is Gloria Borger with a look at Special Counsel Robert Mueller, perhaps the most interesting man in the world and the one we know relatively little about.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAN ANALYST, CNN: Special Counsel Robert Mueller is a mystery man, perhaps the most private public figure in Washington, but as the leader of the Russia investigation, he and his team have become a political pinata after squeezing indictments, jail time and plea deals from former Trump advisers including the President's ex-fixer, now singing and facing prison and his ex- campaign chair; now, indicted and accused of lying.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There should have never been any Mueller investigation because there was never anything done, there was no collusion. There never has been.
BORER: It's been a frame job since one of his lawyers --
RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: They are a group of 13 highly partisan Democrats that make up the Mueller team, excluding him are trying very, very, very hard to frame him.
BORGER: An angry President fired his Attorney General and hired someone more to his liking on the investigation and now delights in calling Mueller a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue.
It's hard to remember that at the start --
LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. SENATOR, SOUTH CAROLINA, REPUBLICAN: I think he's the right guy at the right time.
BORGER: Mueller was a bipartisan favorite.
ROBERT RAY, INDEPENDENT COUNSEL, BILL CLINTON INVESTIGATION: He would have been on anybody's list of, let's say, the top five people in country to have taken on this kind of a responsibility. BORGER: The resume is long. At 74, he's been involved for decades in
some of the Justice Department's most celebrated cases. Mobster John Gotti, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.
ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL: The wreckage of PanAm 103 fell.
BORGER: And the PanAm 103 bombing in Lockerby, Scotland in 1988. A case that still remains personal.
MUELLER: I'll never forget the visit I made to Lockerby where I saw the small wooden warehouse in which were stored the various effects of your loved ones. A white sneaker, a Syracuse sweatshirt, Christmas presents and photographs.
GARRETT GRAFF, AUTHOR, "THE THREAT MATRIX": He's been effectively the same Bob Mueller in every place he has ever worked; whether that was the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco in the 1970s, whether that was the George H.W. Bush administration in the 1980s, whether that was the D.C. Homicide Prosecutor's Office in the 1990s or the FBI in the 2000s. He is hard driving. He is tenacious. He is incredibly thorough and has a very strong sense of right or wrong.
BORGER: A registered Republican, but it's hard to tell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four and a half years of whatever 2,000 meetings, I didn't hear him say anything political.
BORGER: Really? In Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I know that sounds weird. He might have side that guy is a jerk. I didn't see it as a partisan issue.
BORGER: How would you describe his politics?
LISA MONACO, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF OF ROBERT MUELLER: Not.
BORGER: As in there are none?
MONACO: He's apolitical. He's non-partisan. I think it has become quite clear, pretty law and order guy.
MONACO: But he doesn't speak of things in political terms.
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER FBI SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.
BORGER: Which is partly why President Bush picked him to run the FBI in 2001.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The FBI must remain independent of politics and uncompromising in its mission.
BORGER: Mueller arrived at the FBI just seven days before 9/11. He served most of his term under Bush and when President Obama asked him to stay for two more years, it required an act of Congress. The Senate approved 100-0. His M.O., a by the books guy even after hours.
MUDD: People told me after the Christmas party, I mean, "We're going to the director's house," a guy who never really interacts with us, that at the end of the party that he would flick the lights, so it's going to 7:00 to 9:00, and at 9:03, he is like, well, it's - the invitation is seven to nine, it's 9:03, lights on. That's kind of a signal.
BORGER: Married for more than to more than 50 years to a former teacher, the father of two daughters, there still wasn't much small talk about family at work. A literally buttoned up and buttoned down boss.
MUDDD: I remember telling him, "Director, you wear a white button down shirt every day, can you wear like tattered sock or something else."
GRAFF: I asked him finally years after he had been director, what was the deal with the white shirts when you were at the FBI? He said, "I understood I was leading the FBI through a wrenching period of change. I wanted to wear the white shirt because I wanted the other FBI agents to be able to know that this was still the agency that they had signed up to join."
BORGER: His dress code as unforgiving as his work ethic.
MONACO: He was in the office between 6:00 and 6:30 every morning, and he would always plop his briefcase down on the chair opposite my desk, not sit and kibitz or shoot the breeze. Immediately, "What's happening? What's going on?"
MUDD: There's not a lot of back and forth, very quickly you're going to go through the details of the case.
BORGER: Would you assume that he is managing the Special Counsel investigation the same way?
MUDD: Oh, heck yes. I wouldn't assume it. It's not like a professional choice. That's his DNA. "What's going on today? What have you got? What have you got? What have you got? I don't want to hear a lot of noise, I want to hear what the facts are. Let's talk about it. What's your judgment? What do you think? Okay. Next, here's our decision. Let's move on. Let's go." I never saw insecurity or nervousness. Ever. Ever.
BORGER: Ever? Never?
BORGER: Mueller grew up in a wealthy Philadelphia suburbs and attended an elite boarding school. A classmate of John Kerry, then to Princeton. But the combat death of college friend, David Hackett in Vietnam inspired him to join the Marines.
GRAFF: He was wounded in combat, shot through the leg, received a bronze star with valor, Purple Heart and was right back in the fight a couple of weeks later.
MUELLER: In some sense, you feel that you have been given a second lease on life, and you want to make the most of it to contribute in some way.
BORGER: After graduating the University of Virginia Law School, Mueller soon found his way the Department of Justice and remained there for most of the next four decades.
MUELLER: My colleagues here at the Department of Justice past and present ...
BORGER: With two short breaks to give private practice a try.
GRAFF: Bob Mueller has been notoriously unhappy every time he has tried to be in private practice. He just can't defend guilty people. He'll meet with a client. They will explain his problem and he'll say, "Well, it sounds like you should go to jail then."
BORGER: So he'll tell his client ...
GRAFF: "It sounds like you're guilty." Bob Mueller is someone who sees the world in very black and white terms.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
NOBLES: Robert Mueller also has a history with fired FBI director James Comey. More insight on their history in the second part of Gloria's report.
NOBLES: It's no secret that President Donald Trump is not a fan of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, nor is he a fan of former FBI director James Comey, after all, he did fire Comey. But as CNN's Gloria Borger explains, Mueller and Comey's relationship goes back years.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BORGER: By 2004, Mueller was running the FBI when his phone rang. It was James Comey, then Deputy Attorney General. It was the first time Mueller and Comey would find themselves in a very controversial legal drama.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I was very upset. I was angry.
BORGER: Comey was worried the Bush administration was determined to keep a warrantless eavesdropping program that Mueller, Comey, and their boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft, thought was illegal. But Ashcroft was in the hospital recovering from surgery leaving Comey in charge.
COMEY: I was concerned that given how ill I knew the Attorney General was that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that. I called Director Mueller, he had been a great help to me over that week and told him what was happening and he said, "I'll meet you at the hospital right now."
BORGER: They had to literally race administration officials to Ashcroft's bedside.
COMEY: Director Mueller instructed the FBI agents present not to allow me to be removed from the room under any circumstances.
BORGER: In the end, Ashcroft backed Comey and Mueller.
GRAFF: He enlisted Bob Mueller because he knew that Bob Mueller had this incredible nonpartisan reputation in Washington.
BORGER: That was then. Now, Trump compares Mueller to Joe McCarthy, and a Trump ally warns there's trouble ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the report is going to be devastating to the President.
BORGER: After months of haggling, Team Trump has provided written answers to Mueller's questions on collusion and is convinced Trump's problems will be more political than legal.
GIULIANI: Eventually the decision here is going to be impeach or not impeach. Members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. So our jury, as it should be, is the American people.
BORGER: Now, that jury awaits Mueller, who is already letting his work speak for itself. As his office wrote to the court recently, "senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards."
GRAFF: Bob Mueller believes in the American institutions. So I think he wants to set the institutions up to make the best decisions that they can.
BORGER: Lately, we've been getting a glimpse into Mueller's world through his detailed court filings, but we know there's a lot to be learned. Gloria Borger, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
NOBLES: Thank you, Gloria. When is a wall not a wall? When it comes to the proposed wall or fence or slats or just plain border security along the southern border with Mexico, we're finding out from those close to the President that although he keeps talking about a wall, he may not actually mean a wall-wall. Confused? We'll try and give you answers ahead live in the "CNN Newsroom."
NOBLES: A stunning sight at this weekend's Cotton Bowl, and it wasn't on the field. A bald eagle named Clark was supposed to fly around the stadium during the National Anthem to kick off the game, instead Clark landed on the back of a very surprised Notre Dame fan.
He then took off and landed on another fan and stayed there until the trainer plucked him up. Clark is now a viral sensation.