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President Trump's Press Conference Announces The Leader Of ISIS Is Dead; Elie Honig Answers Legal Questions In "Cross-Exam"; Northern California Wildfires Intensifies; Tree Of Life Synagogue Shooting After One Year. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 27, 2019 - 17:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: He gave some very vivid and very graphic details how Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died in a suicide explosion with American troops closing in.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world. A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death has violently been eliminated. He will never again harm another innocent man, woman or child. He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. God bless America.


CABRERA: It happened in north western Syria not far from the Turkish border. The president saying all branches of the U.S. military were involved in the raid, that there were no American casualties and he thanked Russia, Iraq and the Kurds in Syria for cooperating.

Not much is left of the compound where Baghdadi was reportedly confirmed to be hiding out. President Trump says that's where the ISIS leader ran until he was cornered.


TRUMP: He died after running into a dead end tunnel whimpering and crying and screaming all the way. He had dragged three of his young children with him. They were led to certain death. He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast.


CABRERA: This is one of the few images of Baghdadi the world outside of ISIS has seen. President Trump told reporters today he's aware that others may come forward to take Baghdadi's place. To that he said, "We have them in our sights."

To the Pentagon now and CNN's Barbara Starr -- Barbara, what more has emerged about how this military raid unfolded? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, by all accounts, it

appears that in the last couple of weeks the intelligence came together enough that by the end of last week they were able to go to the president and say we want to do this, we think we can do this and he approved it.

And that was the very key step to lead to the very -- to the end game of the final planning to put everything in place. It appears to be about 100 U.S. troops landing in eight helicopters, some of the most elite highly trained U.S. Special Forces.

These are the troops that do these very difficult and dangerous raids against so-called high value targets, the terror targets, the terror personnel that are most wanted by the United States. They land -- they have a good solid techniques and procedures.

They land at night under cover of darkness. They land with overwhelming fire power. It is a surprise to those on the ground when all of this suddenly appears in front of them. And that's one of the key things for the U.S. troops to keep themselves safe, surprise and overwhelming fire power.

And there were only two minor injuries. Two U.S. troops already returned thankfully to duty we are told. Have a listen to a little bit more of what President Trump had to say about it all.


TRUMP: The level of intelligence, the level of work was pretty amazing. When we landed with eight helicopters, a large crew of brilliant fighters ran out of those helicopters and blew holes into the side of the building, not wanting to go through the main door because that was booby trapped.

And there was something -- it was something really amazing to see. I got to watch it along with General Milley, Vice President Pence, others in the Situation Room, and we watched it so clearly.


STARR: So I think it's important to say for the Special Forces that do this kind of work, they've been doing it for the last 18 years in so many places around the world, in North Africa, in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, again, very highly trained personnel that know how to conduct these missions.

This time they, of course, got the target they were looking for. Now the question at hand of course, who else is out there? Are there other high value very significant ISIS, al-Qaeda or other terror personnel, other terror commanders in Syria that the U.S. wants to get. Especially before President Trump's orders that eventually everyone will come out of Syria, all U.S. troops will come home.


No indication of when that's going to happen but there may be other targets they want to get before it does, Ana.

CABRERA: Okay, Barbara Starr for us. Thank you for that reporting. Let's go live now to the White House where the president says he watched this raid unfold. CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond is there for us. Jeremy, what do we know about the timeline of President Trump's involvement?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the president did provide some pretty extraordinary details about all of this and it all began yesterday, Saturday -- a typical Saturday it appeared with the president hitting the lengths at one of his own golf course, something that he frequently does of course as we know.

He returned then to the White House around 4:30 p.m., but by 5:00, the president said that he was huddled in the Situation Room with some of his top national security advisors.

And we can see in a picture provided by the White House that the president was flanked there by his vice president, Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper as well as his national security advisor, Robert O'Brien, and some of his top military brass.

Moments later after the president arrived in the Situation Room at 5:00 p.m., the president says that those eight helicopters carrying U.S. Special Forces took off enroute to Baghdadi's compound, an hour and 10-minute flight and it's there that those U.S. Special Forces cornered Baghdadi where he ultimately ignited his suicide vest.

And the president of course described Baghdadi's final moments in quite graphic terms, very much insisting that Baghdadi did not die a heroic death but rather died as a coward. It was only then after those U.S. forces actually left the compound after retrieving some intelligence and making it back to the base where they had taken off from, that the president tweeted that something very big had indeed happened.

Now, despite all of those details, the president didn't actually notify some of the key congressional leaders before this mission actually took place. And the president insisting it was because he didn't want any of these operational details to leak.


TRUMP: 0We were going to notify them last night but we decided not to do that because Washington leaks like I've never seen before. There's nothing -- there's no country in the world that leaks like we do. And Washington is a leaking machine and I tell my people, we will not notify them until the -- our great people are out. Not just in, but out.


DIAMOND: Now, Ana, the president is not obligated to notify those congressional leaders but it is protocol and they have been notified in the past without any leaks including when Osama bin Laden was killed in that -- during a raid under President Obama. Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

both said that they were not notified. As for the Republican top leaders, Sem. Mitch McConnell and the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, they declined to comment about whether or not they were notified by the White House, Ana.

CABRERA: Jeremy Diamond for us at the White House. Thank you. Joining us now is CNN military analyst and former Army commanding-general of Europe and the 7th Army, Mark Hertling, and CNN global affairs analyst and senior fellow on the counsel on foreign relations, Max Boot; also the author of "Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerilla Warfare form Ancient Times to the Present."

Gentlemen, good to have you with us. General Hertling, first to you, how big of a victory is this for the president?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: There are a lot of strategic targeting packages that go on against key enemies of the United States, Ana. This is a big one. Baghdadi was a high value target at the strategic level.

Special operators are used to going after these kinds of individuals and in most cases they are very successful on how they do it and what they do and what they can accomplish.

But in this case, it is a psychological strike. It's very good. It is somewhat revenge because of all the things that Baghdadi did which the president recounted to a degree this morning in his presentation.

But the thing that's most important is, you know, the focus is on the special operators that conducted the operation, but the intelligence, the CIA, DIA, other nations specifically Iraq and the Kurdish fighters were the ones that provided the key information which led to the tracking down of Baghdadi.

And this has been going on, you know, the attempt to get him has been going on for over five years and they got not only great intelligence but they also got lucky.

CABRERA: Does it alleviate any of the concern of the U.S. pulling out of Syria and having those people on the ground especially when it comes to the concern of the power vacuum involving ISIS there?

HERTLING: No, I don't think so and here's why I say that. If you remember, back about five years ago when the fight against ISIS first started, we had zero personnel in Syria and the commanders on the scene were asked to go in there.

General Joe Votel who was the CENTCOM commander and Tony Thomas who was the Special Operations Command commander, had a really, really tough mission to execute because they had no intelligence on the ground.


You can't take the fighters in, the so-called pipe slingers until you get the intel to push you in there. Over the last five years they've built a network of intelligence and informants and humans that gives them this kind of information and leaving that area.

And Baghdadi was certainly a high valued target, but there are going to be a whole lot of other targets who have already taken his place. When you read Dabiq magazine, which is the journal of ISIS, it will tell you there are already new leaders in place and this is going to continue.

CABRERA: We obviously heard the president go into vivid detail about what happened and he seemed to offer a rationale for doing that.


TRUMP: Well, he died like a dog. He died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming and crying and frankly, I think it's something that should be brought out so that his followers and all of these young kids that want to leave various countries including the United States, they should see how he died. He didn't die a hero. He died a coward.


CABRERA: Max, ISIS was the main reason the U.S. went into Syria. Now the ISIS leader is dead. Does this sort of put a bow on the president's rationale for pulling troops out of Syria? Might this go a long way to convincing the American people it's time for those troops to leave, mission accomplished?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, people do take that perspective, Ana. I think it will be very shortsighted because history teaches us that simply killing a terrorist leader does not necessarily kill the terrorist organization.

Remember in 2016, a U.S. drone strike killed Mullah Mansour, the leader of the Taliban and the Taliban are as much of a threat as ever in Afghanistan.

Also remember in 2006, the U.S. Joint Special Operations command killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who was then the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and then killed as well some of his successors. Did that eliminate al-Qaeda in Iraq? No, it didn't.

In fact it created a job opening that Baghdadi then filled and transformed al-Qaeda in Iraq into Islamic State and became more powerful than ever. And I'm quite worried that the conditions maybe there in Syria right now for a resurgence of ISIS.

In fact, the U.S. intelligence community was warning this summer that ISIS still has something like 18,000 fighters between Iraq and Syria and they're ramping up operations after losing their caliphate.

Now, the formula that was used to defeat the caliphate was the U.S. partnership of the Kurds. And now that's gone, so I'm very worried about who is going to keep fight ISIS now that President Trump has decided to pull most of our forces out of Syria. CABRERA: General, in making this announcement, the president made a

comparison with the killing of Osama bin Laden.


TRUMP: Bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center. This is a man who built a hole as he would like to call it, a country, caliphate, and was trying to do it again and I had not heard too much about his health. I've heard stories about he may not have been in good health but he died in a ruthless vicious manner that I can tell you.


CABRERA: General, the president suggesting there this is an even bigger deal than what happened with Osama bin Laden. What's your perspective on that?

HERTLING: Yes. You know, I don't see it that way, Ana. What I'll tell you now re-enforce what Max said a little while ago. In my several years in combat, we killed quite a few leaders of organizations, of terrorist organizations.

And for some reason, every time we killed one, I mean, it was a high value target, another one would pop up later. This is an organization, these Islamic extremist are an organization that will continue to repopulate.

The very fact that Baghdadi killed himself with a suicide vest tells me everything I know. They still have the will and the desire to fight to the death. And again, reading these magazines and the intelligence that comes out of this organization tells you they are still willing to fight anyone they can on the battlefield for their ideology.

Just killing one or two people, it doesn't matter who they are, Zarqawi Baghdadi, bin Laden, there's always someone to take their place until you kill the ideology. And as Max just said, ISIS 2.0 if you will, still has a lot of fighters and a lot of money and they can repopulate themselves and they are still a threat to human kind.

CABRERA: Max, after everything we've heard and learned about this raid today, what are the biggest questions you have?

BOOT: About the raid itself? I don't have any huge questions about the raid. My questions are about what is the U.S. policy in Syria because part of that press conference today, President Trump went on and on about how we're keeping troops for the oil fields. We're going to bring ExxonMobil in. That doesn't make any sense. It's gibberish.


ExxonMobil is not going to want to come in and take oil from Syria to which the Syrian people and government are legally entitled. What's the point of abandoning our allies, the Kurds, and leaving a residual force to guard these tiny oil fields --

CABRERA: He also talked about making a deal regarding the oil.

BOOT: Right.

CABRERA: He mentioned that several times.

BOOT. Right. That doesn't make any sense. That's just part of this obsession taking the oil. We're not going to steal Syrian oil and ship it over here. We don't need it. It's probably illegal under international law.

The policy doesn't make a lot of sense and the larger issue I have as I suggested earlier is, how are we going to keep ISIS from resurgence given that we're pulling our forces out and we've ended our very successful partnership with the Kurds.

And now you see the Bashar al-Assad regime which is a minority Alawites regime expanding its reach across eastern Syria with the help of the Russians and the Iranians, those are precisely the conditions that gave rise to the Sunni Islamist insurgency in the first place.

So, I am very concerned that President Trump does not have a plan going forward for stabilizing eastern Syria. In fact, our withdrawal is destabilizing it and creating greater opportunities for an ISIS resurgence.

CABRERA: All right, Max Boot, General Mark Hertling, thank you both very much.

Our breaking news continues on the raid that killed ISIS leader al- Baghdadi. President Trump says this is bigger than the death of Osama bin Laden. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."


CABRERA: We could very well be living through the moment that defines Trump's presidency. The wakened ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. raid.


The White House says this picture was taken in the Situation Room as Special Forces closed in on Baghdadi who was holed up in a compound in northwest Syria near the Turkish border. CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein joins us now. Ron, what kind of legacy defining moment was this for President Trump?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's interesting, I think this will rank pretty high on the list of accomplishments for the president in office, but I also don't think it's going to rank very high when they ultimately write his obituary for a couple of reasons.

I mean, I think the biggest impact -- I think the biggest legacy impact of the president, like him or loathe him, is his impact on American race relations and our broader political divisions. And I find it hard to find mention almost anything he can do that history will see as more important than the way he has exacerbated those divides.

As General Hertling said, anytime you take out a target of this magnitude it is an important moment, but ISIS is not the threat that it was a few years ago. So in some ways this is kind of, you know, kind of us maybe nailing the coffin shut or I don't know if that's the right analogy.

But also, it has never been quite the same in the American imagination as al-Qaeda for obvious reasons. It did not execute the largest single attack on the American mainland ever. So, this is a big moment for him, but I don't think it is really a defining moment for him.

CABRERA: The Trump campaign is now fund raising off this moment -- your reaction to that.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I mean, you know, the whole process here as others have noted is so different than what we have seen from previous presidents. I mean the language he used in describing it, the detail that he gave about it.

The fact that he talked about viewing it in live, you know, live time -- real time on the video screens. All of this is kind of a piece with the way he has approached the presidency, much less reserved, much less distanced.

You know, much -- a refusal to recognize many of the traditional constraints on the way the president talks. And I suppose raising money off of it inexorably is kind of the next step in the process, but it's really just a continuation of what he saw from him this morning at that rather extraordinary press conference.

CABRERA: And remember, Donald Trump even before he was president has downplayed President Obama's role in the death of Osama bin Laden.


CABRERA: Let's listen to what he had to say to Wolf Blitzer back in 2011.



TRUMP: I keep hearing about oh, bin Laden. The military did an incredible job and they called him and they said we have him and he said, go get him. What's he going to say, don't get him? And he gets all this credit? It's a lot of crap.


CABRERA: Ron, do you think President Trump deserves credit for this operation?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I think any president in office when something like this happens does but, you know, there is reporting, Ana, as you know out already out tonight in "The New York Times" and elsewhere talking to senior officials in the intelligence and defense departments who say that the president's rather very abrupt decision to withdraw from Syria complicated rather than abetted this operation.

So there's going to be a lot of debate in the next couple of days about that narrowly, but more broadly about whether, you know, how these two things fit together. On the one end, this is a very powerful strike against ISIS, no question.

On the other hand, his decision to abandon the Kurds who have been our allies as max Boot noted, in fighting the Kurds and the chaos that has ensued in portions of Syria may actually be the accelerant for kind of extremist efforts like ISIS.

So, exactly how that calculus plays out and how the foreign policy experts weigh each side of that, I think that's to be determined in the days ahead. It's kind of an odd juxtaposition that we have this big breakthrough at the same time that we are kind of receding in that part of the world.

CABRERA: Rob Brownstein, good to have your perspective. Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: More on the breaking news. The leader of ISIS killed. We're also following dramatic developments in the impeachment inquiry from explosive testimony to a dramatic GOP protest last week. We'll have a look ahead to this week's testimony and Elie Honig is here to answer your questions. You're live in the "CNN NEWSROOM."



CABRERA: From no collusion during the Russia probe to no quid pro quo in the Ukraine scandal. President Trump has turned those words into his main defense as Democrats ramp up their impeachment inquiry.


TRUMP: There was never any quid pro quo.


TRUMP: No quid pro quo.

TRUMP: No quid pro quo.

TRUMP: No quid pro quo.

TRUMP: There is no pro quo.


CABRERA: This brings us to "Cross-Exam" with CNN Legal Analyst, Elie Honig. He is with us for the next three hours answering your questions on impeachment. Okay. Thank you Elie for being here. Lots to talk about. For weeks now we have heard the testimony from

witnesses suggesting there was in fact a quid pro quo. One viewer wants to know, is establishing that necessary in the impeachment process?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So first things first, Ana. Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that we use in the law that simply means this for that. Was there some type of an exchange? And as we just saw up to now, a pillar of Trump's defense has been no quid pro quo over and over.

That defense took on serious damage this week with testimony from career diplomat Bill Taylor who I think his testimony established a quid pro quo. The White House was offering foreign aid and the promise of a White House visit in exchange for these investigations of Trump's political rival.

So, big picture, how does quid pro quo matter? Starting with potential crimes, quid pro quo is absolutely relevant to the potential crime of bribery. That's what bribery is all about, an illicit exchange. But it has no relevance whatsoever to some of the other crimes that are potentially in play here. Extortion, foreign election aid, they have nothing to do with quid pro quo.

Now, of course, the House does not need a crime in order to impeach. The real question is abuse of power. If there was a quid pro quo, I think that makes for an even stronger case for abuse of power and hence for impeachment.

And that's why I think Bill Taylor's testimony has been and will so important. I also think that's why Donald Trump has been lashing out at Bill Taylor personally. I think those attacks are completely unwarranted when you look at his record and his nonpartisanship.

Ultimately, if you want to question the substance of his testimony, go for it. That's very much in play. But the personal attacks on Taylor I think are unwarranted and ultimately will backfire.


CABRERA: So, if the House impeaches the president, another viewer asks this, what standard of proof applies to the Senate trial?

HONIG: Yes, good question. A lot of viewers had that on their minds. So, in a criminal trial, a prosecutor has the standard of proof of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. That is the highest standard we have in our entire legal system.

In a civil case, a plaintiff has to prove his or her case by what we call the preponderance of the evidence. Its lower standard, basically means 50.1 percent.

Now, in impeachment, the Constitution does not give us any particular standard of proof, so really, it is up to the individual senators. Now, little history, in the Clinton impeachment trial in the Senate, there was a motion to let's use the criminal standard. Let's use beyond a reasonable doubt.

That came from Democrats who wanted to help Bill Clinton get through the trial, but that motion was voted down. And so ultimately, what we saw in the Clinton trial and what I think we will see here is it will be up to each individual senator to decide what standard of proof is sufficient or insufficient to convict the president.

CABRERA: A lawyer for the president urged a federal appeals court on Wednesday to block prosecutors from getting access to Trump's tax returns citing immunity. His lawyer argued actually that the president could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and essentially be immune from being prosecuted while in office. And so one viewer wants to know, what's next for that case?

HONIG: And so this case involves a subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney on Donald Trump for his tax returns. Trump challenged that in federal court. He went to the first step, the district court.

District Judge Victor Marrero rejected Trump's challenge. He said no, this is a legitimate subpoena. You have to provide the tax returns. This week, the case went up the next level to the Court of Appeals where Trump's lawyers made this 5th Avenue defense which is two parts.

One, cannot indict or charge a sitting president while he's in office even if he shoots someone. And two, the part that to me is absurd, is you can't even investigate the sitting president while he's in office. I mean, I know those judges who heard this case. I've been in front of them. I fully expect them to reject that argument.

Think of where it would lead. What if the president actually did shoot somebody? By that argument, the cops couldn't even come out and do ballistics and finger prints and crime scene. That can't possibly be the case.

So, the Court of Appeals will rule, I think within the next few weeks. Then, I think that whoever loses will try to get it to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court takes it, they'll decide. But if not, the Court of Appeals' final word will be the final word here. I don't think it's going to be a good final word for Donald Trump.

CABRERA: Elie Honig, as always, thank you.

HONIG: Thanks a lot.

CABRERA: We'll check back with you in the next hour --

HONIG: I'll be back.

CABRERA: -- to answer more of our viewer's questions which you can submit on under "Cross-Exam." And be sure to watch tonight's CNN special, "The White House in Crisis, The Impeachment Inquiry." Join my colleague Erin Burnett for an in-depth look at the witnesses, the testimony, and the latest evidence. That's tonight at 8:00 eastern here on CNN.



CABRERA: Now back to our top story, President Trump today announcing the man he calls the world's number one terrorist leader is now dead. This is new drone video of what remains right now of that compound in Syria where ISIS founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was targeted this weekend, where he was confronted by U.S. Special Forces and where we're told he blew himself up to avoid capture.

President Trump says he's aware that others want to step up and take Baghdadi's place.


TRUMP: You know, we know the successors and we've already got them in our sights and we'll tell you that right now, but we know the successors.


CABRERA: CNN International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson joins us in London. Nic, the details we're hearing of this mission similar to the Osama bin Laden raid in 2011, the nighttime operation, helicopters, military dogs, the identification process.

You stood in that bin Laden compound. Does the death of the ISIS leader have the same gravity and significance as the death of Osama bin laden?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Bin Laden was a bigger fish because of what he did to the United States. There's no doubt about that on September the 11th. But what Baghdadi was capable of and what he executed on the ground in Syria and Iraq and the number of people.

The sheer scale of his terrorism if you will, yes, it makes his death significant as well and his network is perhaps more capable at the moment than al-Qaeda's was when bin Laden was taken down.

CABRERA: Officials in Iraq say Baghdadi's death is no big deal and there are experts who believe someone else will simply just take his place. What kind of a blow is this to ISIS as an organization?

ROBERTSON: It's going to create a psychological impact. They're going to have to scramble to put somebody else in his place. It's quite likely that they already nominated somebody else. They knew that there was a big price on Baghdadi's head.

You know, ISIS is not in the place it was at the beginning of this year or two years ago. It squeezed into a tiny enclave that is bracing itself for a fight with Syrian and Russian forces and is an enclave, millions of people, but many thousands if different Jihadi fighters. The real question is, what is ISIS' intent today for attacks outside of that area, outside of the country. CABRERA: Yes, timing and location here is interesting. What does it

say that Baghdadi was holed up in this compound so close to the Turkish border, so close to the Kurdish fighters who wanted him dead? Why there? Was he just hiding in plain sight?

ROBERTSON: This is what bin Laden did. I mean, for years bin Laden hid in a house that was in the same town as a large Pakistani military training camp. There's a huge army headquarters just less than a mile away from his house.

Baghdadi here seems to have gone to an area where perhaps not so much hiding in plain sight, but hiding in an area where it will be harder for the United States to get him because it's close to those Turkish troops on the ground, their post on the border with Turkey.


And also, this is an area in Syria where Russia has control over that air space, so they have surface-to-air missiles in that area. This is not an air space that the United States can willy nilly fly into. So, that was probably tactical to go there, but it is also a massive enclave of other jihadist like-minded people.

CABRERA: Nic Robertson, thank you very much for your analysis. We are following breaking news out of California this hour. High winds bringing a new level of danger to the wildfires there. We have new video showing what it's like to try and drive to safety leaving your burning home behind. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."


CABRERA: Right now, California is under a statewide fire emergency as high winds, some hitting 80 miles per hou,r are blowing wildfires closer and closer to homes. These pictures are from north San Francisco where two fires broke out this morning shutting down Interstate 80. And this is in addition to the Kincade fire, which is already threatening thousands of homes.

Nearly 200,000 people in northern California are being ordered to evacuate including two hospitals in Santa Rosa. But getting out safely is not easy.


New video shows flames encroaching on many roads and highways as people try to flee these fast moving flames. CNN Correspondent, Lucy Kafanov joins us from Calistoga in northern California. Lucy, tell us more about what you're witnessing right now.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ana. It's been a rough few hours. It's been a rough day, in fact, here in Calistoga. You can hear probably the wind is picking up around me. Those 80-mile-per-hour wind gusts that you mentioned are why these fires have spread so vastly.

We were overnighting in Santa Rosa. It was supposed to be safe there but we actually got woken up at 5:30 in the morning, knocks on our door by the hotel staff, that area, now a mandatory evacuation zone, part of those 200,00 people nearly that have been forced out of their homes.

Now, we were able to film up here near Calistoga the people who own this farm let us spend some time here and I want to show you what we're seeing behind me. Destruction, the structures aren't standing anymore. Over in the distance, cattle -- it's not just human beings who are being affected here. It's the animals too.

Now, the folks who own this land, they've owned the farm for over 100 years. They lost absolutely everything. The family is okay. Most of their livestock is okay, but they did lose unfortunately some animals. They are in shock right now. They're trying to figure out how they're going to piece their lives and livelihood together.

You probably can't see it very clearly but their home where they actually lived is over there to my right. Nothing is standing, just that fireplace. This is just one of dozens of tragic stories in this area.

The heart of California's wine country, an area that was hit last year, an area that was hit years before, they just keep getting more and more and they are struggling to deal with this, just one story of many, Ana.

CABRERA: Wow, and nothing is recognizable there behind you. Lucy Kafanov, thank you for that reporting.

It is the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. Eleven lives lost at the Tree of Life synagogue. We'll hear from those survived one year later. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom." Don't go anywhere.



CABRERA: Today marks one year since the deadliest anti-Semitic attack on American soil. It happened in Pittsburgh where 11 people were shot and killed at the Tree of Life synagogue. Now, the effort to never forget is a daily practice. CNN's Sara Sidner reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein --

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every day for the past year, the names of the 11 Jews shot to death in their Pittsburgh synagogue are recited before the mourners' Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

Joe Charny has attended the daily service five days a week for one year. The 91-year-old is a visitor here at Beth Shalom congregation. But he often leads the prayer. His home synagogue remains closed. He was inside it on October 27th, 2018, when a hate-filled gunman entered his place of worship. JOE CHARNEY, SURVIVOR, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: We hear a noise. And I

didn't pay much attention initially. He didn't shoot me. He started with the people who were seated.

SIDNER (voice-over): The gunman commenced slaughtering seven of his friends at Tree of Life, killing three worshipping at New Light and one at Dor Hadash. All three congregations are housed in the same building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the suspect he keeps telling about killing Jews, he doesn't want any of them live.

SIDNER (voice-over): The suspect recently offered to plead guilty in exchange for spending life in prison, but federal prosecutors rejected the offer and are seeking the death penalty.

In this community, that is one of two decisions being questioned. The other was what to do with the building after such a tragedy -- make this a memorial or reopen as a synagogue and community center. They decided to combine the ideas.

The reminders of the deadliest anti-Semitic attack on American soil are scattered throughout this place. The outpourings of love and gifts from around the country have been gathered up, cataloged and some featured on the fence that now surrounds the synagogue, including artwork from students who survived the massacre in Parkland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we also remember Joyce Feinberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz --

SIDNER (voice-over): All the while, the prayers for the dead have never stopped.

(on camera): What does it feel like reciting those names?

CHARNY: It feels good to recite those names because I know I'm doing the right thing and I know that I'm doing something for me and for them at the same time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melvin Wax and Irving Younger --

SIDNER (voice-over): Joining Charny throughout the year, Tree of Life rabbi, Jeffrey Myers, and Charny's friend 50 years, Judah Samet. Samet says he narrowly escaped death. He was about to walk in when a man stopped him.

JUDAH SAMET, SURVIVOR, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: I would be right in the middle of the shooting, so he's the one who had really saved my life.

SIDNER (voice-over): It isn't the first time he escaped death. This is Samet as a young boy after seeing more death than life inside a Nazi death camp in Germany.

SAMET: In Bergen-Belsen, when we see somebody dead, we walked around him, part of respect. But eventually we were weakening. We stepped on them. We could hear their bones cracking. It didn't mean anything. By the age 7, I have seen more death than life.

You see Irving Younger. He was the first one to get killed.

SIDNER (voice-over): At 80, the targeting of Jews yet again changed the way he looked at his synagogue for a while.

SAMET: And I looked at that and I said this looks like a tombstone. There is no holiness emanating from this building. I had 11 brothers in it. It's a cemetery.

SIDNER (voice-over): But a year later --

SAMET: Everything passes --

SIDNER (voice-over): All he wants to do is to go back to his sanctuary.

(on camera): How long have you been going to this synagogue?

SAMET: 54 years.

SIDNER: 54 years.


SIDNER: That is a long time. No wonder you feel like this is home.

SAMET: Its home. Its home.

SIDNER (voice-over): Survivor Joe Charny agrees.

(on camra): Do you want to go back?


CHARNY: So very much. Oh, very much.


CHARNY: Why? Because it's the right thing to do. Because if you don't, the other side wins.

SIDNER: The anti-Semites.


SIDNER (voice-over): For many, it's a beacon showing the Jewish faithful will endure and the dead will never be forgotten.

(on camera): What is it you want people to know about those people who were your friends, who prayed with you at the synagogue?

CHARNY: I want them to know that their lives meant something, that they were the epitome of how we should be.

SIDNER: I mean, you were forced to remember every weekday. CHARNY: Right.

SIDNER: You say the names.

CHARNY: Yes. That was great. Still is great. I'm glad we do it. I like to hear the names. I think they make a difference and I don't want them forgotten.

SIDNER (voice-over): Sara Sidner, CNN, Pittsburgh.



CABRERA: Top of the hour. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

The man who created ISIS and led the terrorist group through years of unspeakable human cruelty, torture, countless brutal deaths and the spread of violent Islamist extremism, that man is dead.