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New Wildfire in California; U.S. Releases Video of al-Baghdadi Raid; Trump Declassifies K-9's Name; Dunford Defends Vindman; Twitter Bans Political Ads. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 31, 2019 - 06:30   ET



ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Have succeeded. They've won these lawsuits on the Mueller grand jury materials, on the Trump tax returns because thus far the courts have been clear, Congress does have the right, within reasonable boundaries, but generally does have a broad right to exercise oversight over the executive branch. And that will be the big question today.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Elie, thanks for all of that.

HONIG: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We've got to cut you short because we do have some breaking news right now.


CAMEROTA: Thank you.

There's a new wildfire and it is burning out of control in southern California. These are live pictures from KTLA right now. You can see this home is engulfed in flames. We have all of the breaking details on where these wildfires are and what's happening, next.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right, this is the breaking news. These are live pictures of a new wildfire that has just broken out at San Bernardino, California. Several homes there engulfed in flames. Mandatory evacuations are underway. You can see that fire spreading right there. 19 million people in the state are currently under a red flag warning.

SO CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Moore Park, California. This is near the Reagan National Library. And these are the pictures we were glued to yesterday as that fire moved so close to that beautiful facility.

Omar, what are you seeing today? OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we're in a

neighborhood just next to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. A neighborhood that was affected by the Easy Fire. In fact, you have to look no further than the ground to see the fire retardant that was dropped here on the sidewalk. You see this fire hydrant completely drenched in this retardant here over the course of yesterday right on the edge of mandatory evacuation zones for this Simi Valley area. But evacuation zone or not, you may be able to tell, it is windy, and it's a huge part of what's been fueling these flames. And what brought these flames right to the doorstep of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Our crew was actually up there yesterday as those flames began to rip up the hillside and got so intense, we actually had to abandon our setup and scramble for safety through our escape route. And the fire officials told us, the fire burned all -- on all sides of the library complex. But good news was that it never posed an imminent threat, to use their words, to any of the actual buildings that are part of that complex.

And then, overall, when you talk about the factors that, again, had been fueling this, are the winds. We've seen them hit high speeds over the course of this week. That's why we are under an extreme red flag warning is how it's being described and that is expected to continue throughout the rest of the day today.

And, of course, this Easy Fire, the one that's affecting the Simi Valley, just 5 percent contained, burning about 1,500 acres, is one of more than ten wildfires burning across the state. And, of course, the latest one, you mentioned right before coming to me, the Hillside Fire burning in San Bernardino, already up to 200 acres just in the past hour. So already threatening homes and forcing mandatory evacuations. And, again, highlighting why these conditions are just so dangerous and why they want -- officials want residents to take these warnings seriously.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, this is just so tough for the firefighters out there every day when a new one crops up.

Omar, thank you very much. I know you'll keep an eye on it for us this morning.

OK, also breaking news, the Pentagon confirms that North Korea has launched another missile. South Korea says two projectiles were launched, at least one of them landing in the sea between South Korea and Japan. The latest launch happening weeks after North Korea said it successfully test-fired a new type of submarine launched ballistic missile. Pyongyang and Washington had agreed to resume nuclear talks just the day before. North Korea later broke those off.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So we have new video of the raid that took down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Why did the Pentagon release the video? We have a general break it down frame by frame, next.



CAMEROTA: The Pentagon releasing declassified video and images of the daring two-hour-long raid that killed the leader of ISIS. U.S. forces here are seen closing in on al Baghdadi's compound. Military officials say he detonated a suicide vest and killed himself along with two of his children after special ops cornered him in an underground tunnel.

Joining us now to walk us through what we're seeing here is CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr and CNN military analyst, retired Lieutenant General, Mark Hertling. He's the former army commanding general Europe and Seventh Army.

Great to have both of you.

So, Barbara, it's fascinating, you know, to watch -- to see all of this and to see what the special ops forces were seeing in the night sky with this drone video.

So just walk us through some of what we're seeing here on our screen.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, as -- what we now know is, as the special forces approached the compound, they came under fire. As the helicopters were trying to land the troops, those helicopters returning fire, killing those opposition forces. They actually don't think they were Baghdadi protection forces, just militants in the area. They approached the compound, they breached, they get in, they find Baghdadi in this tunnel.

It's extraordinary to see this video because this was a highly classified mission. Nothing like this was ever declassified from the Osama bin Laden raid. So you might wonder what the motivation was by the White House to want to have all of this out in public. It is good publicity for them. The mission was already a success.

Two U.S. troops and the military working dog wounded in the tunnel when it -- he detonated his suicide vest. It filled with water. There were electrical wires in there and they suffered electrocution injuries. Very thankfully, the two U.S. service members returned to duty, as was the dog.

CAMEROTA: General, what we're watching right now are the troops, the U.S. troops approaching the compound. We can see these little sort of black figures running up to the exterior wall. But that first shot that we showed of the little -- different little black figures that are being shot at from overhead, how do commanders in the field, or generals like yourself, know who those are?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, those -- those videos are pretty standard, truthfully, Alisyn. I've seen multiple ones like that whenever you go after a high value target, and we did that often in -- when I was in northern Iraq commanding forces. You know where your forces are. You can track them.

[06:45:00] They're certainly -- there's the capability to, and I won't say how, but there is a capability to distinguish friendly forces from enemy, even in those videos. There are techniques that some folks wear on their uniforms to give indicators of that kind of -- of where the friendly forces are.

But as you saw, the other thing that's pretty relevant about that photo you just mentioned was the precision of the aerial platform in killing those individuals that were attempting to interfere with the mission. You know, whenever you have a raid like this going after a high value target, especially a strategic high value target, you're going to put areal platforms above and -- and that aircraft was extremely precise, as they always are. I could probably tell you what kind of aircraft that was, but I won't, but it was in support of those forces on the ground conducting the ingress.

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting.

General, while we have you, I just want to talk about the dog, the hero dog that helped during all of this.


CAMEROTA: And then the president tweeted out the dog's name. I won't repeat it. But basically that had been classified. And then it was, I guess, declassified because the president tweeted it out or maybe that was a mistake. So what do you make of the aftermath of this?

HERTLING: Yes, of course he did, Alisyn, because yesterday, General Mackenzie, in his extremely professional briefing, giving just the facts, talked about how they weren't going to name it. So the next day -- or the next evening, the president tweets it out.

Here's the thing. I -- I had a bunch of pushback on talking about why these names are classified. And the fact of the matter is, any information given about a unit in terms of those who participate in a raid can be harmful, not just to the unit, but to the family members. There is, there are family members that know that dog and that handler back home. They don't know where their soldiers are that are part of Delta Force. So when you can connect information like that, you put not only soldiers at risk, but family members at risk back home, because they talk about these kind of things. And whenever you give up information, the enemy can put pieces of a puzzle together.

I've been threatened. My family has been threatened when I was in combat by terrorist organizations. And that's unfortunate. So you just don't declassify things like this on a whim. But the president did again last night.

CAMEROTA: That's really helpful context for the rest of us civilians to understand.

Barbara, I know that you were struck by what General Dunford said about Alexander Vindman. So here's what the quote was. Vindman is a professional, competent, patriotic and loyal officer. He has made an extraordinary contribution to the security of our nation in both peacetime and combat.

And, of course, that was in -- a result of after Alexander Vindman had testified behind closed doors and some in right wing circles, or even just Republican circles, had sort of tried to denigrate his motives.

STARR: Well, you know, he -- his patriotism was directly questioned. I was so surprised to hear back from General Dunford when I e-mailed him yesterday. General Dunford has vowed to stay out of politics. But this is an officer that directly worked for him here in the Pentagon, worked as a translator on General Dunford's calls with his Russian counterparts. This is important. It tells us again that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman knows how these international calls worked.

General Dunford coming back and defending his officer, saying he is patriotic and loyal.


CAMEROTA: Really helpful.

And, Barbara, thank you for getting that statement for us.

Barbara Starr, General Hertling, thank you very much. Great to talk to both of you.

HERTLING: A pleasure.


BERMAN: So a huge move in social media overnight. Twitter bans political ads. All of them. This is seen as a swipe at FaceBook. So how will FaceBook respond, next.



BERMAN: What a big move. What a power play overnight in social media.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced it will ban all political ads. This is an apparent and obvious swipe at FaceBook as FaceBook executives try to continue to defend their policy of allowing politicians to run false political ads.

Joining us now is CNN politics and technology reporter Donie O'Sullivan.

So, Twitter's move is really interesting.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN POLITICS AND TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Yes. This is an acknowledgment from one of the titans of Silicon Valley, Jack Dorsey, that online political ads are fundamentally different to ads that you put in newspapers and on TV. The scale, the speed, and the way you can target these ads, he says, could have ramifications that today's democratic infrastructure might not be able to handle. So FaceBook, we keep seeing them saying, look, we're just doing what

-- people do, you know, TV networks, newspapers, as they accept ads. We're just playing that game. But Jack here is making an important point, there -- you can target people online in a way unlike any other.

CAMEROTA: Mark Zuckerberg responded to this. Here is his response. We need to be careful about adopting more and more rules surrounding political speech. In a democracy, I don't think it's right for private companies to censor politicians or the news.

You know, he's using some loaded terms there. Censor is not what we're talking about. Fact checking is what we're talking about. And, by the way, news organizations do fact check some -- and, by the way, we don't always air politicians ads that are blatantly wrong.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, Zuckerberg is trying to conflate free speech with paid speech on its platform, right? Nobody here is saying that Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or anybody shouldn't be allowed to post on FaceBook. The debate is, should they be allowed to buy ad space to target into the news feeds of people who might not follow them on that social media platform and should they be allowed to lie? FaceBook says, yes, they should be allowed to lie.

BERMAN: I just don't get it. It still -- it blows my mind that they defend lies. They defend the placement of lies on their platform. And there is an example also overnight from your reporting where, once again, it sort of has blown up in their face.

Explain that.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. So new reporting overnight is we have found a FaceBook page which was posing as the Trump campaign. It was actually trying to scam the Trump supporters out of money. It was on FaceBook. It was running FaceBook ads. And it was sending messages that they had literally just ripped from the Trump campaign website and saying, please donate.

We spoke to PayPal, which was using the -- which was running the donation service, and also FaceBook. And once CNN brought it to both of their attention, they could quickly see that it was a scam. Also, the Trump campaign said we have absolutely nothing to do with this and we're disappointed, of course, that the platforms would allow this to run.

This is -- this campaign, we caught it pretty early. Obviously FaceBook should have caught it. It didn't have a massive reach. It didn't take in a massive amount of money. But if you remember back to 2016, Russia was running political ads targeting American voters. Facebook was supposed to bring in steps to verify that political ad buyers are in America and are who they say they are. Here is a case where it really wasn't the case. There was a -- there was a phone number tied to the account. We called it up. It was an Internet service. The -- the address, the U.S. mailing address tied to this fake account, once we checked it, was actually for a grocery store in Los Angeles, not a real, political campaign. CAMEROTA: I'm just not sure how much more evidence we need that

FaceBook cannot be trusted to be fact checkers.


They do not have a proven track record. In fact, they have a bad track record, as you're pointing out. And so -- I mean the idea that they think that they can be good shepherds of real information is just not true. And we keep seeing it time and again.

Donie, thank you very much for your reporting. That is really helpful to know.

All right, meanwhile, voters in suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, helped President Trump win that swing state in 2016. He may need even more of them in 2020. So how is impeachment playing there?

Well, CNN's Miguel Marquez talked to voters in Washington County about all of this.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): What one thinks of impeachment.

ANDREW GMITER, DEMOCRAT: I think he deserves to be impeached, absolutely.

MARQUEZ: Often tracks with what one thinks of Donald Trump.

MARQUEZ (on camera): What do you think of impeachment?


MARQUEZ (voice over): James Dillie, a coal miner, and his step-son, Roc Dabney, are huge supporters of the president, proudly displaying Trump flags like this one. They see impeachment as Democrats trying to reverse the outcome of 2016.

DILLIE: I think they're just head hunting. They're mad they lost and just trying to get him out.

ROC DABNEY, TRUMP VOTER: I think it's something that Democrats are doing right now. They're just like grabbing for straws really.

MARQUEZ: Washington County, south of Pittsburgh, has trended Republican for years. In 2016, Donald Trump beat Clinton here by more than 25 points.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Aren't you excited for the first female president?


WILLIAM KRACHALA, ANTI-TRUMP REPUBLICAN: I am. MARQUEZ (voice over): CNN was here on election day in 2016. The

Krachalas then married 37 years and diametrically opposed on candidates.


MARQUEZ (on camera): You voted for Donald Trump. You voted for Hillary Clinton. Has anything changed?


MARQUEZ (voice over): Now, both of them 90, they still lovingly bicker.

W. KRACHALA: I think he's a crook.

J. KRACHALA: None of that.

W. KRACHALA: And I think he's going to get us into a war.

J. KRACHALA: Well, you're not dead and we had wars before that.

W. KRACHALA: We're not done yet.

MARQUEZ: Jacquelyn (ph) couldn't be clearer on impeachment.

J. KRACHALA: Well, that's ridiculous.

MARQUEZ: Bill, a lifelong Republican, is as opposed, as ever, to Donald Trump, but impeachment --

W. KRACHALA: I don't know whether impeachment would solve anything or not. It just would create a lot of upheaval. But I'm hoping to hell that he gets elected out of office.

CODY SPENCE, TRUMP VOTER: My health insurance is -- alone --

MARQUEZ: Cody Spence, a registered Democrat in 2016, was struggling to pay for health care. Today, his financial situation has improved. He credits Donald Trump.

SPENCE: I don't think at this point that there is a reason to impeach him. And you get some hard evidence that the people of the country can see, that's a different story.

MARQUEZ: Some moderates question the wisdom of an impeachment fight now.

SUSAN LUISI, MODERATE DEMOCRAT: Well, we've already gone pretty far into this presidency. So do we really want to spend the last time of it impeaching someone who may or may not be elected again?

MARQUEZ: More progressive Democrats say full steam ahead on impeachment, regardless of the outcome.

GMITER: It probably still favors the Democrats. MARQUEZ (on camera): And then if he goes on to win the election?

GMITER: That's going to be -- that's going to be a rough nother four years.

MARQUEZ: Democratic officials here in Washington County say that not only does dislike of Donald Trump help them, but impeachment does as well. They have an off-year election coming up in just a few days and they say impeachment and the dislike of Trump is already driving voters and raising enthusiasm among Democrats here. And they expect that trend to continue through 2020.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Washington County, Pennsylvania.


BERMAN: Really cuts so many different ways. And you know members of both parties are watching it very closely.

So, overnight, the comics, they took aim at a fake photo and a tweet from the president and details left out of the Ukraine transcript. Here are your "Late Night Laughs."


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": President Trump is coming to New York this weekend to go to a UFC match at Madison Square Garden. Trump said he's excited to see how many different sporting events he can get booed at.

And this is interesting, the winner will be named champion. The loser will be named Trump's chief of staff. So that's --

SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": President Trump today tweeted an edited image that depicts him presenting the dog that participated in the raid on a leader of ISIS with a medal with the caption, American hero. Sure, you say that now, but wait until you find out that dog is testifying in the impeachment inquiry.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Vindman, he dropped a bombshell. The official White House transcript of Trump's Ukraine call omitted crucial words and phrases. This is huge. The White House intentionally left things out.

I mean, for Pete's sake, how do you edit the transcript and leave in, I'd like you to do us a favor though. It's like a mobster whacking a guy going, don't worry, cops got nothing, we got rid of some of his body.


CAMEROTA: Nothing like gruesome gallows humor for the morning.

All right, it is a big, big day in Washington.

NEW DAY continues right now. [07:00:02]


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Morrison (ph) is key. He was, again, another official who was on that now famous phone call on July 25th.