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Wildfires Explode Across Los Angeles, Thousands Ordered to Leave; Two Giuliani Associates Charged with Campaign Finance Violations; Iran State TV: 2 Missiles Hit Iranian Oil Tanker; Turkey Advances Into Syria, Claims More than 200 Killed. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 11, 2019 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, October 11. It's 6 a.m. here in New York. There's a ton to get to this morning, but we begin with life-threatening breaking news.

Wildfires. Deadly wildfires, potentially, in southern California. There are winds there gusting over 60 miles per hour, fanning the flames, forcing mandatory evacuations in the Los Angeles area. Thousands -- thousands -- of residents have been ordered to leave, many of whom were asleep as the fire started overnight.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This has spread so quickly. Dozens of homes have already burned. The scene looks devastating. On your screen, two major freeways are shut down at this hour. You can imagine what that means for Los Angeles.

So let's get right to CNN's Nick Watt. He is live in Porter Ranch, California.

What's the scene, Nick?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, just the speed of this fire has been phenomenal. Within about three hours this thing exploded to 1,600 acres burning. None of that contained.

We arrived at this scene about 20 minutes ago before the firefighters got here. Desperate residents using yard hoses to try and beat back the flames.

This House at the end of the cul-de-sac here has gone up in flames. Firefighters are now on the scene trying to contain it.

But this is like a game of whack-a-mole. There is a huge park in the canyon just behind there. And as John mentioned, the wind is the issue. We have seen embers just flying around all morning here in the San Fernando Valley. That is what took this fire across the 5 freeway, across the 210 Freeway.

Right now, we've got firefighters coming in here, trying to beat back the flames behind this House.

Jordan, if we come back over here, that is the main issue that they are dealing with right now. Now, the people in that House on the left, I just spoke to them. They said we're desperate. Just a few hours ago, we didn't even realize this fire was coming.

And that was the issue. Many people have gone to bed before those evacuation orders even came into effect. And the speed of this fire, 300 firefighters, more than 60 engines, helicopter air drops trying to contain this. This is a heavily populated area.

We are right here in Porter Ranch, back 27, 28 miles from downtown Los Angeles; 1,900 homes under mandatory evacuation. And the fight against this fire ongoing.

Back to you guys.

BERMAN: All right. Nick Watt, please stay safe. Please keep us posted, Nick. You should know there's a news conference going on from that town. We understand the entire town you're in, Porter Ranch, now under mandatory evacuation. We'll check back in with you shortly.

In the meantime, major new developments in the impeachment inquiry. Two men close to Rudy Giuliani have been arrested. Not just any men. These are central players in Giuliani's far-flung efforts to get foreigners to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

The two men were indicted on charges of illegally funneling foreign money into donations for Republican campaigns. These -- we have pictures, I think. These are pictures of all the men together. We don't know exactly when this is from.

But interestingly enough, the Soviet-born pair met Giuliani for lunch at the Trump International Hotel in Washington just hours before they were arrested at Dulles Airport trying to leave the country.

House Democrats have already subpoenaed both men to testify. Connected to all of this, just hours from now, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is scheduled to appear before House investigators. Those men arrested along with Rudy Giuliani. They worked to get her fired from her post. And the president did ultimately push her out.

Now, we are standing by to see if the president tries to block her testimony this morning. Jessica Schneider is live with us in Washington.

And Jessica, what a tangled web here?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. You know, the dramatic arrests of Rudy Giuliani's two associates really still sending shock waves through Washington. Amid questions about how this will play into the impeachment inquiry.

Rudy Giuliani says that he was planning to fly to Vienna, Austria, Thursday night. That was the same city where his two associates were headed with one-way tickets before federal prosecutors in New York got wind of their travel plans, and the federal authorities moved in quickly to Dulles Airport just outside Washington, D.C., to make those arrests.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They once smiled in photos with President Trump and even dined with his son, Don Jr.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know those gentlemen. Now, it's possible I have a picture with them, because I have a picture with everybody.

SCHNEIDER: And now two of Rudy Giuliani's associates, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, who helped Trump's personal attorney seek information about former Vice President Joe Biden in Ukraine have been indicted for breaking campaign finance laws.

WILLIAM SWEENEY, NEW YORK FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR-IN-CHARGE: This investigation is about corrupt behavior, deliberate law breaking.

SCHNEIDER: Fruman and Parnas are charged with making false statement, falsifying records, and two counts of conspiracy, including funneling foreign money into a U.S. election. In efforts to gain influence with politicians, the two men made a $325,000 donation to a pro-Trump super PAC.

The indictment alleging Fruman and Parnas sought to advance their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working. Federal prosecutors say the two men also pressured a congressman to help oust former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch from her position. Fired in May, Yovanovitch is scheduled to testify before Congress this morning.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): The American people really can learn from her why was Giuliani involved? She can shed a lot of light on what happened.


SCHNEIDER: House Democrats sending Fruman and Parnas subpoenas for documents related to their impeachment inquiry, wanting to understand how Fruman and Parnas worked with Giuliani to find dirt on Biden. As discussed in President Trump's July 25th phone call with the Ukrainian president where Trump mentioned Yovanovitch, already fired. Who the indictment states Fruman and Parnas wanted out of her job by request of a Ukrainian official.


SCHNEIDER: And now top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer is saying that Rudy Giuliani needs to testify before Congress, especially since he's now clearly connected to these two men who have been arrested for these campaign finance violations. We've also learned that Rudy Giuliani's financial dealings with these

two men, it's under scrutiny by the feds. Now, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, they made their initial appearance in Virginia federal court yesterday. They are currently being held on $1 million bond. But they will ultimately be extradited to New York to face the charges there -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: It definitely feels like many pieces of the puzzle are coming together for investigators. Jessica, thank you very much.

So what the new arrests could mean for Rudy Giuliani, as well as the impeachment inquiry. That's next.



BERMAN: So this morning, CNN has learned that investigators are taking a hard look at Rudy Giuliani's business dealings with two of his Ukraine contacts now charged with illegally funneling cash into U.S. elections.

Joining us now to discuss, Bianna Golodryga, CNN senior global affairs analyst; and Elliot Williams, former deputy assistant attorney general and a CNN legal analyst.

Let me just put up the picture of these three men who know each other well. They have worked fairly closely together. You can see them being friendly here.

CAMEROTA: They don't look like strangers.

BERMAN: They don't look like strangers. And just to remind people, these are the guys that Rudy has worked with to dig up dirt in Ukraine on the Bidens. They're arrested on something sort of separate from this.

My question to you, Elliot, this morning is what does Rudy Giuliani need to be nervous about now that these men are in custody?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. Any time someone is charged with a crime, they have an enormous incentive to cooperate with law enforcement, provide testimony to law enforcement about other people. And frankly, and to plead guilty and testify against people they've worked with. That's, frankly, something that criminal justice advocates take huge concern with, because of how we incentivize guilty pleas, right?

Now, is Rudy Giuliani going to be charged with a crime on account of the conduct that these individuals testified to? You know, much to many people's chagrin, I can't say that with certainty today.

But at the end of the day, he's an associate of these individuals. And how investigations are built is that people plead guilty, and they testify against their associates. So he should certainly seek counsel and get a lawyer. That would be

my advice to him as another lawyer. He should probably lawyer up. But it's just hard to say whether he'll be charged yet. Because just because associates are charged, it just doesn't mean that it's necessarily going to rise up to his level.

CAMEROTA: Bianna, the word that kept popping up into my head as I was reading, all that they're accused of and now charged with dirty, dirty, dirty. Every single thing they did, setting up --

BERMAN: To be fair, that's always in your head.

CAMEROTA: A lot of stories I've been thinking about that lately. But dirty. Dirty -- dirty players. Dirty politics.

They set up a shell company to funnel money to a Trump super PAC that exceeds legal limits. They are directly connected to digging up dirt on Ambassador Yovanovitch to get her out of the way, because she was trying to fight corruption.

They funneled money to Congressman Pete Sessions to get him to fire -- to enlist his help in firing Marie Yovanovitch. It goes on and on how -- the dirty dealings they were connected to.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. I was thinking the same thing but the Russian word for dirty. I you asked me, that's what I was thinking in my head, too.

But yes, here we are once again. And you also see that this began long before that now-infamous July 25th phone call. This process was in the works for months. This process was in the works before Zelensky was even elected.

And now you know that these two men were trying to get a connection to Zelensky after he was elected. In fact, Zelensky, not to make this too complicated, but "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that Zelensky, who was supported by a different Ukrainian oligarch who lives in Israel. These two men flew to Israel to meet with this oligarch so that they could get a connection to Zelensky.

I also think what stands out is this Pete Sessions connection and whether Democrats are going to want to hear from him, because --

CAMEROTA: Of course. How could they not want to?

GOLODRYGA: You tie these pieces together, and you have a separate foreign national, right? Foreign national No. 1. Another Russian who was implicated in all of this, funneling the money through these two men to Pete Sessions.

Pete Sessions then goes to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and says Yovanovitch has to go. And assuming we hear from her, and we're not going to see a last-minute delay in any of her testimony, I think she's going to have a lot to say about how all of this went.

CAMEROTA: Yes. In a couple of hours, she is now the key -- a key person to hear from.

BERMAN: There is a tremendous nowness to all of this in that she is scheduled to testify in a couple of hours. And just remind people, yes, these campaign finance charges are about something separate, mostly.


CAMEROTA: Sort of. Although money is at the heart of all of this.

BERMAN: Money is at the heart of all of it, and firing or getting rid of the ambassador seems to be at the heart of all of it. And she is a central player in the impeachment inquiry, scheduled to testify in a couple of hours. We are watching to see if the president will let her talk or try to block it.

I want to play you some sound from President Trump yesterday. How he reacted when confronted with questions about all this.


TRUMP: I don't know those gentlemen. Now, it's possible I have a picture with them, because I have a picture with everybody. I don't know them. I don't know about them. I don't know what they do, but I don't know. Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You'd have to ask Rudy.


BERMAN: All right. The first part of that, by the way, there are pictures of him with those men. Which he's right. He takes a picture with a lot of people.

CAMEROTA: I'm sure you have a picture with him.

BERMAN: I'm sure I do.

The second part of it, Elliot, is what I'm most interested in, which is that Rudy Giuliani, who is he? You'd have to ask Rudy. I barely know Rudy Giuliani was sort of the subtext of what he was saying there.

CAMEROTA: Also reminiscent of the Michael Cohen thing.

BERMAN: You'd have to ask Michael Cohen.

CAMEROTA: I don't know about that. You'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

WILLIAMS: Yes. It's just a matter of time before he says, you know, who's Rudy Giuliani? I don't know Rudy Giuliani. I've never met Rudy Giuliani. I've never been photographed with him. So why would I have any connection to him whatsoever?

You know, it's -- the speed with which the president seems willing to throw people under the bus. As this all started a few weeks ago, one of the first words out of his mouth were you should talk to Mike Pence and talked to the vice president about some of the conversations he's had here.

And so I think there are photographs of him and his son and Rudy Giuliani, I believe, together if not separately with these individuals. The president cannot credibly say that he has no connection to the individuals at all.

Again, I'll echo what I said earlier. That doesn't mean the president is getting charged with a crime or impeached, but he can't distance himself fully from these individuals, because the evidence is there. It's on its face.

CAMEROTA: Bianna, I've said this before. But I really keep coming back to this. Wouldn't it have just been easier to talk about the economy?

The idea that they have to go to these lengths and pay off thugs and set up shell companies and be involved in Ukraine and all of this, I think tells you that they must not feel that confident about winning.

GOLODRYGA: Well, this is all happening during the Mueller investigation, as well. Remember, we were surprised that the president felt liberated after Mueller's testimony to pick up the phone and call Zelensky the day after.

No. This was all taking place before, which makes you think that this president, or at least his associates, thought that all of this was kosher.

Now, to the president's credit, he in interviews said there's nothing wrong with getting information from foreign leaders. But it's clearly playing out that way.

But you're right. Focusing on the economy. Focusing on pocketbook issues is something that Americans elected him to do.

CAMEROTA: But they're not --

GOLODRYGA: Not to be mired in this mess.

CAMEROTA: And they don't seem as good at doing that --


CAMEROTA: -- as they -- Dirty, dirty, dirty. All right. Thank you both.

We continue to follow the breaking news out of Los Angeles, where there are raging wildfires that have exploded overnight. These were live pictures on your screen. More than 4,000 acres are now burning. This, again, just sparked overnight. Hundreds of homes are already -- sorry, dozens of homes are already destroyed. There are mandatory evacuations underway. So we have the latest for you next.


[06:22:47] CAMEROTA: OK. More on the breaking news for you. Wildfires have exploded across southern California overnight. Authorities say there are more than 4,600 acres that are burning.

Santa Ana winds have gusted over 60 miles per hour, and they're fanning these flames, of course. And authorities are forcing mandatory evacuations for thousands of people in the Los Angeles area overnight and this morning.

Dozens of homes have already been destroyed. Los Angeles officials say more than 100,000 residents are being impacted at this hour by these wildfires. You're looking at live pictures there.

BERMAN: All right. We have more breaking news for you this morning. Reports just in that missiles have hit an Iranian oil tanker near a Saudi port. Iran state media is saying that two explosions -- there were two explosions and that oil is now leaking into the Red Sea.

CNN's Nic Robertson live for us with the very latest. Nic, what can you tell us?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. What we're getting from the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman is that the ship was hit twice in the space of half an hour. That there are no casualties on board and there were initial reports of a fire. However, there's been no images of a fire. And the indications now are that there is not a fire on board.

And the ship is still in motion. We're tracking it at the moment through tracking sites at about 30 knots. So it's moving along at about 10 kilometers an hour.

Where did this happen? About 60 miles off the port city of Jeddah on the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia. A spokesman for the national oil company in Iran that owns this vessel is suggesting that the vessel was hit by missiles fired from Saudi Arabia.

Irrespective of the responsibility or what has happened here, clearly it raises tensions in the region at the time. Clearly, everyone remembers the fact that the Saudi oil facilities were hit just a few weeks ago and that the Saudis have pointed the finger of blame at Iran and that's something the United States and European nations support, although interestingly, so far the Saudi have not gone public with their investigation.


But at the moment, you know, we're trying to get more details on precisely what has happened and the damage that's been done. But absolutely raises tensions in a very tense region at the moment.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, Nic. Thank you very much for that reporting.

And now to this important update. Turkey says that, as of this morning, more than 200 people have been killed. This is as Turkish forces keep advancing into Syria. Kurdish fighters who helped the U.S. defeat ISIS are believed to be among those 200 dead.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is live in northern Syria. What's the situation at this hour, Clarissa?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, you know, we just went to a U.S. base. It's important to remember that, while the Americans have pulled back from that part of the border where that Turkish military offensive is really concentrated, they still have roughly a thousand military personnel here.

So we actually went, got into an American base. Understandably, the Americans did not want to talk to us on camera. They're mostly Special Forces operatives.

But what's interesting is that it's Kurdish forces who are guarding the U.S. base, who provide the perimeter. And Kurdish forces who have been fighting on the front lines with their U.S. allies in the battle against ISIS.

We asked the U.S. Special Forces man who we spoke to whether he felt embarrassed or ashamed. He said, listen, I can't really make any statements, due to the sensitive nature of our work.

But privately, some of the Kurdish fighters in that very same base, in that U.S. base told us they feel, Alisyn, like they have been sold out by the Americans. And they are not expecting the U.S. at this stage to help them with this Turkish military offensive, which is continuing today, as you said.

Shelling continuing in a number of different areas as Turkey prepares to try to clear this huge swath 200 miles across the border.

BERMAN: All right, Clarissa. Thank you very much for being with us. Please keep us posted on these fast-moving developments.

This morning, two Soviet-born men connected to Rudy Giuliani, they have been arrested. These are the very same men who worked to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. Giuliani was eating with them in a Trump Hotel hours before they were trying to leave the country.

And there's now one report this morning that Giuliani, he may have been headed to the same city in Europe that they were. What the heck is going on here? Next.