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U.S. to Deploy Additional 1500 Troops to Saudi Arabia; Iranian Media Reports Oil Tanker Attacked off Saudi Coast; White House Threatens Very Significant Sanctions against Turkey; CNN Crew Gets Access to American Base in Northern Syria; Turkish Artillery Fire Comes Close to U.S. Forces In Syria; What Trump's Cussing and Cutdowns Mean for The Country; Trump Says Substantial Initial Trade Agreement Reached with China; Fast Moving Fire in LA Kills One And Displaces 100,000; House Democrats Say State Department Tried to Block Ex- Ukraine Ambassador from Appearing Before Congress. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 11, 2019 - 15:30   ET



NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: -- supposedly hit by missiles although we've seen no evidence of this so far.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Can you tell me more about that?

ROBERTSON: Yes, sure, I mean what we heard from the Iranian authorities, dangerous adventurism is how the foreign ministry spokesman called it. The Iranian national oil company that owns this tanker said that early in the morning hours a couple of missiles hit it. That there was an oil spill, there was a fire, they cleared it up and said there is or the oil spill's done. There is no fire. There are no crew injured in this, the ship continues on track, two meter and a half size, you know, four-foot holes were put in the side of the vessel according to Iranian authorities.

Again, if you think back to those previous attacks of tankers in the Gulf in the last few months, we've seen images, there's been proof. That hasn't come this time. The tanker is still moving. The Saudis have said nothing on this issue, but of course it comes at a time of heightened tension and that's had an impact on oil prices today.

BALDWIN: Of course. Nic Robertson, thank you very much.

And just in that region we're also we are covering the Turkish offensive against the Syrian Kurds. The United Nations says, 100,000 people have been displaced because of the military action there. Many are being sheltered in host communities or shelters and as Turkey escalates its attack along the border the White House just threatened, quote, very significant sanctions against Turkey if it refuses to pull back.


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I want to emphasize at this point we are not activating the sanctions. These are very powerful sanctions. We hope we don't have to use them, but we can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to.


BALDWIN: CNN Visited a U.S. base in Syria to find out how soldiers and Kurdish troops still protecting the base feel about what's happening. Here is CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward with her exclusive reporting from northern Syria.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So even though U.S. forces have pulled back from the border area where Turkey is staging this military operation, there are still U.S. military personnel deployed across parts of northern Syria. We're here at one U.S. base. You can see in the distance there the American flag billowing. And we want to try to get a sense from the Americans who are stationed here how they feel about the U.S.'s decision to essentially allow President Erdogan of Turkey to go ahead and launch this military operation against the Kurds. The Kurds, of course, have been the U.S.'s main ally on the ground in the battle against ISIS.

What's Interesting to see, is that even though this is a U.S. base, it's actually guarded and protected by Kurdish forces. You can imagine that things must be a little bit tense between them right now.

So, unsurprisingly the Americans don't want to talk to us right now. Someone did come out to at least greet us, they were very polite but they said due to the sensitive nature of their work here they can't say a thing.

Just outside the base you see a poster to commemorate all the Kurdish fighters who have died in the battle against ISIS. Kurdish fighters have been telling us about the Americans, they feel that they've been sold out and that the U.S. is not going to do anything to help them in this fight against Turkey.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, northern Syria.


BALDWIN: Clarissa, thank you.

Just hours from now President Trump will be holding a last-minute campaign rally in Louisiana. One night after he hurled insult after insult at everyone from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Mayor of Minneapolis, the host city there. What does this tell us about his mind-set?

Plus, live pictures out of California here where tens of thousands of people have evacuated as wildfires threaten their homes.



BALDWIN: More breaking news. We have just learned that Turkish artillery fire has landed dangerously close to U.S. forces in Syria. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon. Barbara, what do you know?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well. The first reports are just coming in. But we've talked to an official, Brooke, who has seen the initial information. It does appear that Turkish artillery rounds have landed near a SOF, a U.S. Special Operations Forces base in northern Syria. U.S. special operations forces have been based there. This is near the town of Kobane in northern Syria that has come under Turkish shelling since all this activity began. Nobody else firing artillery in that region so widely believed to be Turkish artillery.

It is exactly what the Pentagon did not want to see. They have been very concerned about the security of U.S. forces in addition to the Kurds. But the security of U.S. troops in this region. They do not believe at this point that the Turks deliberately targeted the U.S., and the rounds did land several hundred meters away from the U.S. position.

But even if it's inadvertent, even if the Turks are not capable of precision fires, the concern for the Pentagon now we know will be the safety of U.S. troops. Because just a short time ago we had a press briefing here where they updated us on security of U.S. troops in northern Syria.


They told us -- the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs told us that the Turks know down to the satellite point on the ground where U.S. forces are located. They know to stay away from U.S. forces, and if U.S. forces come under attack, the U.S. does have standby plans to evacuate U.S. troops out of Syria, if they simply are unable to be safe to stay there. So now for the first time U.S. Special Operations Forces having Turkish artillery land dangerously close to them in northern Syria -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

STARR: Sure.

BALDWIN: Keep us posted on everything happening in northern Syria.

Meantime, words matter. The words I use. The words you use, and certainly the words uttered by the President of the United States. Words can unite and inspire and also intimidate and divide. And I just wanted to take a moment today to call your attention to some of the language President Trump has been using as of late. And just before I do, keep in mind, this is the man who holds the most sacred office in our country. Whose revered position is one our children should look up to. Here is President Trump speaking at a rally last night in Minneapolis hurling insult after insult starting with the city's mayor who had warned Trump to pay his bill in full for holding this event in his city.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Minneapolis. Minneapolis, you got a rotten mayor, you got to change your mayor. A got a bad mayor.

She's either really stupid, OK? Or she's really lost it, or maybe there's a certain dishonesty there in there somewhere.

Hunter, you know nothing about energy. You know nothing about China. You nothing about anything, frankly. Hunter, you're a loser, and your father was never considered smart. He was never considered a good Senator. He was only a good Vice President, because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama's ass.


BALDWIN: Just adding to that, just in the last week we have also seen the President call a sitting U.S. Senator Mitt Romney a pompous ass on Twitter. He called the investigation into his Ukraine phone call, and pardon my language, but I'm just directly quoting the President, "bullshit". And when he saw a Fox News poll yesterday that he didn't like, he singled out the pollsters in a tweet with two words, "they suck." Again, this is the President of the United States.

And again, I come back to our nation's children, because they are plugged in. They are watching. They are listening to the President and to their parents. And so I want to leave you with this image of a little boy presumably being held by his dad at President Trump's rally last night. And do you know what his dad was teaching him, according to the Yahoo White House correspondent who was there and snapped these photos?

He was teaching him how to boo the media. And that little boy can't be older than -- 6? And if you look really closely on his t-shirt. It reads, oh, the places you'll go. The name of a popular book by Dr. Seuss, a book with a message of hope and inspiration. And just left me wondering, whose words will be more enduring?

Joining me now former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod, host of " THE AXE FILES" right here on CNN. David, what do you think?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, I'm thinking, way to warm it up for me, Brooke. Listen, everything you say is obviously true. You know, the profanity, the sort of -- the, you know, the gruffness with people. The mischaracterizations of people and the nasty characterizations of people. But this is all, has been from the beginning, fundamentally endemic to the Trump political project. In certain ways his willingness to flout these norms are like his willingness to flout all the other norms. It is to his supporters at least a signification of his authenticity that he's not politically correct, that he'll say the things that nobody else will say, and he gets quite a reaction for it.

BALDWIN: But don't you think his language has gotten worse? Just in the last -few weeks.

AXELROD: It has gotten worse. But I mean I think that he is, he is generally moving in a bad direction, because he's under tremendous pressure, and now I think he feels pressure to try and torque up his base. I think as bad as all of the language is, is the -- what is worse is the inclination to, to try to make the case that he and his supporters and his supporters in particular, he as their emblem are under siege. It's almost a war-like rhetoric. You know, he's talked about the civil war, if he's removed from office and so on.


It's all really disturbing but it's coming from a President who flagrantly violates rules, norms, laws, and institutions and believes that anybody who observes them is a sucker. So it's all part and parcel of the same thing.

BALDWIN: And part of this whole conversation you know also filed this under what's been disturbing, is just watching Republicans say nothing. Right? I mean, you talked to Harry Reid about this for your show. What did he say?

AXELROD: I mean, Harry is an institutionalist and he had relationships with Republicans. Even as he was seen as a very partisan figure, he had relationships with Republican Senators and high regard for them. And so he expressed some real disappointment with the unwillingness to speak up about things that are, you know, that are so fundamentally wrong, and I mean it was really interesting. He was almost lamenting the loss of what once was.

BALDWIN: We'll watch for your full interview with the former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on "THE AXE FILES." That is coming up of course this weekend. David Axelrod, thank you very much, tomorrow 7:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

Any moment now, we are expecting to hear from President Trump as we've just learned he's reached a quote, substantial initial trade deal with China. We'll bring you his comments, live from the White House.



BALDWIN: Breaking news. President Trump says he has reached a substantial initial trade deal with China. The comments coming just in after meeting with China's top trade negotiator. President Trump said that the deal amounted to the first phase of an agreement, according to the reporters in the room, we should learn more about the deal soon. But as we check the markets in the wake of this news, you could see really positive, Dow up just around the 400 mark with about 9 minutes to go in the trading day.

Fire season has returned to southern California with a vengeance. The Saddle Ridge Fire in northwestern Los Angeles is shutting down major interstates and forcing thousands of people to evacuate. It has already claimed the life of one person and scorched nearly 5,000 acres and burned dozens of homes. Sara Sidner is our CNN national correspondent in the LA suburb of Porter Ranch, and so, Sara, have firefighters made any headway?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They have. And you could see some of it behind me, you could see all of this area that was burning. It goes right up to dozens of houses. But they were able to stop it from going through the Porter Ranch Estates area but it has burned through this area right now. Let me show you the other side of the street because you could see huge plumes of smoke. Clearly there are more fires that have been going in the last few minutes. This just popped up. And now new evacuations are underway. We've been talking to residents here, one of whom said they had never seen anything like this in their neighborhood. He said that he heard his father screaming in a way he has never heard his father sound before.


ANDRO MAMMO, PORTER RANCH RESIDENT: I heard a scream like I've never heard before. My dad said, it's in our backyard. It's in our backyard. But in a way that I've never heard him scream before. So that's literally that keeps like repeating in my head as we speak.

SIDNER: When you hear your father screaming like that, what did you see when you looked out?

MAMMO: When I looked out, I looked into my backyard and I saw the flames and I saw how close it was. My number one instinct wasn't to grab any clothes or anything but it was to get my little brother and my little sister who were asleep at the time.


SIDNER: Luckily, they did make it out safe, their house was not burned. Firefighters managed to save it. I want to give you an idea of just how extreme this is and how high these flames come. Now we're standing way above the bottom of the canyon there. You will you see the tree there. You will see a tree that's burned all the way up to the top. And these flames were massive. All of the way through this canyon here in Porter Ranch and the fires continue. And the problem is the wind. The Santa Ana winds that everyone here in California knows come through around this time have really picked up and this is what firefighters have been warning of. It is very low humidity, very high winds and all of these embers are being kicked out all over the place, so there are spot fires all over this area -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes. We could hear the wind through your microphone. Sara Sidner, thank you for being there for us and of course wishing those firefighters just safety as they fight those fires. Sarah, thank you in Porter Ranch.

Back to the breaking news on Capitol Hill, that the White House tried to block former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from testifying today but she talked to lawmakers anyway. Details on the scathing criticism she had of the Trump administration and Rudy Giuliani.



BALDWIN: Want to take a moment to honor this week's CNN Hero. He helps seniors battle loneliness and isolation by crossing items off their bucket lists.


WEBB WEIMAN, FOUNDER, MY JUMP!: The reality of living in isolation is out there and it's real. And that's really one of the driving forces for us to keep going. For us to take those people out of isolation and make them example of them.

I looked at it like much more than a hot air balloon ride. There is a sense of accomplishment. A story that they get to take back to their community. It lifts their spirits.


BALDWIN: You can see more of his incredible work, go to

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me. Have a wonderful weekends. But stay right here. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.