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CNN NEWSROOM

Impeachment Inquiry; Dems Gather in a Key State; ISIS Chooses New Leader; California Wildfires; Protests in Chile, Lebanon and Iraq; Rugby World Cup; Hero Dog. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired November 2, 2019 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): On the defensive: CNN learns that the White House has a new strategy when it comes to the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.

Taking the stage: Democrats who want to be the next president gather in Iowa, while one candidate says he's bowing out.

Plus, moment of ignition: cameras capturing the spark that started a major wildfire in California. We'll have the latest on where those fires stand.

Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. We're coming to you live from Atlanta, GA. I'm Natalie Allen and NEWSROOM starts right now.

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ALLEN: Thanks again for joining us.

The White House now thinks it is possible U.S. president Trump could be impeached and then tried in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans hold a slim majority.

CNN has learned administration lawyers are building a defense with the help of two Republican congressmen. Jim Jordan in the middle here and Mark Meadows to the left are among the few Republicans who have attended the closed door depositions. Meantime, the president is shoring up support among Senate Republicans and his devoted base.

At a rally Friday night in Mississippi, he warned his supporters that a vast deep state conspiracy was trying to drive him from office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The deranged impeachment witch hunt, this is one I never thought I'd be involved in. The word impeachment to me is dirty it is not a good word totally phony deal they know it everybody knows it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: The president will need his base and Senate Republicans if the House votes to impeach him. We get the latest now from all of this from CNN's Jim Acosta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top aides in the West Wing are now preparing for what may be inevitable, that President Trump will be impeached in the House of Representatives.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: But I'm prepared for the president to be impeached. I'm prepared for the votes to not go that way, depending on what the evidence -- the evidence says.

ACOSTA: When it comes to his battle against impeachment, the president may be going from live-tweeting to live reading, defending his phone call with the leader of Ukraine, telling "The Washington Examiner: "At some point, I'm going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it's a straight call."

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can't impeach the president who did nothing wrong. The gentleman that came in yesterday, Morrison, he was terrific. He was supposed to be their primary witness. He was terrific. And he said he's didn't see anything wrong with it.

ACOSTA: That's despite more damaging testimony in the inquiry. Democrats say the latest administration official to testify, Tim Morrison, confirmed the president was dangling dollars as he dialed for dirt on Joe Biden.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So you're saying he corroborated the charge that there was a quid pro quo?

REP. AMI BERA (D-CA): Yes. So, in my mind, that is an abuse of power.

ACOSTA: White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, who is refusing to hold briefings with reporters, told FOX News the counter impeachment strategy seems largely set, with the president calling the shots.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He is the war room. The difference between Clinton and Nixon, which is what people constantly compare us to, is that those two did something wrong. The president has done nothing wrong. So, at this time, he feels confident with the people that he has in place. We don't feel the need for a war room. And we will see what happens.

ACOSTA: The latest polls show the public is deeply divided over whether the president should be impeached. Republicans are staying loyal to the president, to the consternation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We took an oath to protect and defend our democracy. And that is what he has made an assault on. And if the Republicans have a higher loyalty to the president than they do to their oath of office, that's their problem.

ACOSTA: As for the president's plan to change his residency to Florida, New York's governor noted on Twitter, "It's not like Trump paid taxes here anyway," and arguing on CNN that Mr. Trump may be trying to evade an effort by Manhattan prosecutors to obtain his long- shielded tax returns.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This is a desperate legal tactic, whereby they're going to argue, well, we're not New York residents anymore, we're Florida residents, so New York doesn't have a right to the tax returns.

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CUOMO: I don't think it's a legal tactic that's going to hold up.

ACOSTA: The president is not being straight about the latest jobs, numbers, tweeting: "Wow, a blowout jobs number just out, adjusted for revisions and the General Motors strike, 303,000."

But that's not accurate. The actual numbers, 128,000, a strong showing, according to the experts. The president is also taking misleading shots at the city of Chicago, tweeting: "The police department there will never stop its crime wave with the current superintendent of police."

But hold on. Murders for the month of October fell more than 20 percent there compared to October of last year.

EDDIE JOHNSON, CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: The fact of it is that numbers do matter, facts matter. And the facts are that we have steadily been bringing these numbers down over the past three years. So that's what we need to focus on.

ACOSTA: The president is expected to attend an Ultimate Fighting Championship event in New York City over the weekend, heading back to the state where he will no longer be a resident. As one Trump adviser said of the president's weekend plans, "He likes fistfights" -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

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ALLEN: At least four administration officials are set to testify about Ukraine on Monday. They're scheduled to; whether they actually show up for the closed door depositions is another matter. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry had been asked to give a deposition Wednesday but he has declined.

The statement from the Energy Department said Perry may be willing to appear at a public hearing at a later date. Perry is planning to step down from his cabinet post at the end of the year.

Let's talk about these developments with Amy Pope, she is an associate fellow at Chatham House in London.

Good morning to you, thanks for coming on.

AMY POPE, CHATHAM HOUSE: Good morning.

ALLEN: Good morning. Well, Donald Trump is talking of conducting a fireside chat, as we just heard from Mr. Acosta's piece there, to read the transcript of the call to Ukraine, to prove, as he claimed, it was a perfect call.

Will that be a wise move?

Because he's wanting to own this himself.

POPE: I can't imagine what he's thinking. What it does suggest is that he doesn't appreciate the seriousness of the claim being made against him. The transcript documents that.

The president was effectively putting on the line U.S. military and foreign aid support for a strategic ally in exchange for something that he wanted, for his own political and personal gain.

And I think that's what's most troubling about what's happening here is that the president fails to recognize how inconsistent that is with his role as the commander in chief.

ALLEN: Right, because this is a unique tactic that the president may employ.

But the question is, will it work as evidence builds of a quid pro quo with Ukraine?

POPE: It looks like what's happening right now is that his base is remaining loyal to him. So perhaps it will work with his base.

For those who are more middle of the road, for those who are just looking at the evidence as it comes in, I think this actually will backfire. And it will underline that what was going on here was really inconsistent with U.S. foreign policy and with our constitutional responsibilities.

ALLEN: Right. Well, he is doing what he often does, doing things his own way. He has shrugged off a war room approach to the impeachment process for a one-person war room, his communications chief saying he is the War Room.

But is that a good thing to let Mr. Trump be in charge considering what he is facing?

POPE: I would not recommend this strategy if I were to be advising the president. He's really banking on the fact that he has the support of the Republican Party.

I mean, ultimately the impeachment inquiry comes down to a political decision, right? We're not looking at the standard of proof in the same way you would look at a criminal case. You're not looking at the various elements of defense the same way you'd look at a criminal case going to trial.

So he's banking on the fact this is going to be entirely political, that he'll be able to keep his Republican base in line and that he won't actually reach the threshold of two-thirds of the Senate to convict him for these crimes. In some ways it's an interesting tactic he's taking and he'll just have to hope it works. It's high risk.

ALLEN: Meantime, he raised $3 million on Thursday, the day the House voted on the impeachment resolution.

If Senate Republicans hold with him, could he play an impeachment in the House if it comes to that and is looking lightly to his advantage somehow?

POPE: I'm sure he will try to do it. I believe based on, for example, the midterm elections, that the American public is more interested in seeing good work being done rather than just seeing this partisan back and forth.

So I think the more that he plays on the impeachment, the less that he offers solutions for the future, the more he risks in terms of his election in 2020.

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POPE: But at the same time this president has defied expectations time and time again. Every bit of conventional wisdom goes out the door with him.

The things that would have taken down presidents in the past don't seem to stick here and I think he's hoping that that luck just continues and that his base remains loyal to him no matter what he does.

ALLEN: Well, let's look again at the latest impeachment poll, which shows Americans neck in neck in what they think about it: yes, he should be impeached 49 percent, no; he should not, 47 percent.

So it will be interesting, Amy, to watch what happens next as this private process behind closed doors becomes public and how that might affect the public's thoughts on impeachment.

POPE: It will be interesting to watch and the real question is will this come down to what the evidence is showing?

Because there's -- there seems to be, based on what we've seen so far and including the transcript, and that the president was clearly withholding aid to advance his own political and personal interests.

And that by itself appears to be seeking the influence of the foreign governments into the U.S. elections. That alone would be grounds for impeachment. That is the kind of conduct that the founders of the Constitution were very carefully guarding against and that this president doesn't seem to understand why that is so serious.

At some point the American people need to make clear to him, that, no, they do not want foreigners to be interfering in our elections. This is an American process and Americans should be deciding who their president is.

ALLEN: Right. And he was allegedly -- if he did this -- offering up the people's money, tax money.

POPE: Right.

ALLEN: Involved in this quid pro quo and that's not sitting well with many people in the United States. Amy Pope thanks for coming on. We appreciate your insights.

POPE: Thank you very much.

ALLEN: Supporters and critics alike often say Elizabeth Warren has a plan for everything. Now the U.S. presidential hopeful has an answer to a question she's dodged for weeks. We'll have that in a moment.

Plus, a top U.S. official warning of the evolving threat posed by ISIS. How the terror group might respond to the killing of its former leader. We'll talk about that.

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ALLEN: In the race for the White House, a once little known candidate finds himself neck in neck among top tier Democrats. I'm talking about Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. With his surging popularity, he's trying to position himself as the most electable candidate and the best to take on president Donald Trump.

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MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And if talking about hope and belonging sounds optimistic to you for a time like this, fine, call it optimistic. But do not call it naive because I believe these things not based on my age but based on my experience.

The purpose of the presidency is not the glorification of the president. It is the unification of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Another candidate, Elizabeth Warren, was also courting supporters at what's billed as the biggest Democratic Party event of the year in the state of Iowa. The Liberty and Justice celebration helped launch Barack Obama on the path to the White House 12 years ago. As for Warren, she's been facing criticism over her reluctance to

explain the math behind her Medicare for all plan. But in Iowa, it was a different story. CNN's MJ Lee was there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WARREN: That's left behind. It's right there in the plan. And it's fully paid for.

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elizabeth Warren finally releasing her own plan on how to pay for Medicare for All. The presidential candidate answering one question she's repeatedly dodged for weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you raise taxes on the middle class for pay -- to pay for it, yes or no?

WARREN: Costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations. And for hardworking middle-class families, costs will go down.

BUTTIGIEG: We heard it tonight a yes or no question that didn't get a yes or no answer.

LEE: Now for the first time, Warren saying her answer is, no.

WARREN: I have a plan that shows how we can have Medicare for All without raising taxes one cent on middle class families.

LEE: Her price tag, $20.5 trillion of new federal spending over 10 years. The senator laying out the math saying nearly half would come from continued employer contributions. The rest, taxes on additional take home pay coming from employees no longer having to pay health insurance premiums, cracking down on tax evasion and fraud, taxing financial companies and large corporations.

She's also beefing up her signature wealth tax under the new plan. Americans would now pay 6 cents for every $1 of wealth over $1 billion rather than 3 cents. Her Democratic rivals quickly piling on. Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign saying in a statement, her proposal dramatically understates its cost, overstates its savings, inflates the revenue and pretends that an employer payroll tax increase is something else.

Warren's new pledge to not raise taxes on the middle class are contrast from Bernie Sanders, the author of Medicare for All.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up.

LEE: Warren also saying she'll soon release another plan detailing the transition to Medicare for All, leaving open the possibility of more divergence from Sanders' bill. Ask today whether she's discussed her new plan with Sanders.

WARREN: I've called him but he hasn't returned my call yet. LEE (voice-over): : With a little more than three months left before the Iowa caucuses, a new poll shows a close fight between four Democrats: Warren, Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Biden. All four candidates gathering in the same place tonight, at the Liberty and Justice Dinner in Des Moines, one of the last major cattle calls before caucus day.

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ALLEN: And let's take a closer look at that new Iowa poll along with one from New Hampshire. They show a tight race at the top among voters in the first two states to vote for the Democratic nominee.

Elizabeth Warren leads the pack in both, with Bernie Sanders not far behind; next Pete Buttigieg and, in fourth, Joe Biden, who once dominated all the polls.

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ALLEN: From London, I'm joined by Inge Kjemtrup, chair of the U.K. chapter of Democrats Abroad.

Inge, thanks for coming on. Good morning.

INGE KJEMTRUP, DEMOCRATS ABROAD, U.K. CHAPTER: Good morning.

ALLEN: Well, let's begin right there with what we just said about that poll. Warren is on top followed by Bernie Sanders, then Buttigieg, then Biden. Let's talk more about Buttigieg who is surging and quite popular in Iowa.

What is it about him that obviously resonates with voters?

Because he offered a very optimistic vision of a post-Trump America there in Iowa.

KJEMTRUP: I have to say I'm generally optimistic of all the top four, of all the candidates we have because they're all --

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KJEMTRUP: -- you know, they're all roughly on the same page with issues like health care, with issues about changing the economy. Actually addressing climate change, as well.

Buttigieg has a slightly different spin, they all do and it's actually fantastic. I think some people find it nervewracking that we have so many candidates at this point. But I think we'll see things winnowing down. And that's actually a good thing.

That makes us stronger that we've had this and managed to temper our policies and ideas with these things. It's really pretty exciting.

ALLEN: Well, Biden, though, he had a less than exciting run in Iowa. He did not get a rousing response. Let's listen to what he said about Donald Trump and Russia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Number one is that Vladimir Putin doesn't want me to be president. And number two, Donald Trump doesn't want me to be the nominee. Spent a lot of money to make sure I'm not.

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BIDEN: I'm flattered. I'm flattered. Folks, look, we have got to, we have got to beat this man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: He takes on Trump directly for sure. But something isn't working for Joe Biden.

Why is he lagging behind somewhat?

KJEMTRUP: Well, you know, running -- the run-up to Iowa is kind of a thing where people are tested in terms of the finances, how much support they get, where they are in the polls, if they resonate with the voters.

And you see people resonating more, even though, as I said, there's a lot of commonalities with what people believe. And we're going to see this changing. You know that yesterday, of course, Beto O'Rourke went out of the race. People are going to start making that decision.

So by the time we get to the Iowa caucus in February and certainly by the time of Super Tuesday in March, something we will be having here in the U.K. and around the world, then we're going to have a much smaller field.

ALLEN: Yes. Let's look at Beto O'Rourke and what he said when he dropped out on Friday, then talk about it.

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BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to clearly see at this point it we do not have the means to pursue this campaign successfully. And my service will not be as a candidate nor as a nominee of this party for the presidency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Surely a disappointing moment for him.

Why are other candidates in the single digits in the polls staying in, Inge?

KJEMTRUP: Well, I think there's always that hope of a last-minute surge. A hope that you can be one of the people in Iowa at that dinner we saw earlier who really sparks people's imagination. I mean, most of the candidates have a good team in Iowa and after that it's New Hampshire. If you can make your mark there, as Obama did in 2008, then that will

help; although I do have to point out that after Obama did well in Iowa, he lost to Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. So this is going to be very much an up and down thing.

But I do think we're going to see this winnowing process as people say, you know, do I have the ability to stay in this race, do I have a message that will resonate?

And yes, I think we're going to see this happening in the run-up to February.

ALLEN: Well, Elizabeth Warren is polling very well. Some Democrats, though, worry her programs are too ambitious. There it is right there.

Are you concerned she goes too far to the Left? Strongly agree, 49 percent; somewhat agree, 51 percent. Let's listen to her talking about coming on strong with bold ideas. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a time of crisis and media pundits, Washington insiders. Even some people in our own party don't want to admit it.

They think that running some vague campaign that nibbles around the edges is somehow safe. But if the most we can promise is business as usual after Donald Trump, then Democrats will lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: All right. She's not nibbling around the edges, is she?

Do you agree with her statement?

It does seem like some Democrats are worried.

KJEMTRUP: I actually don't think Democrats are worried. I think they're feeling to use the British expression spoiled for choice. And part of the reason is that we have people who are grappling with the real issues.

You know, we've got someone in the White House who's basically a climate change denier. We've got someone in the White House who isn't actually looking at people's daily working situations.

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KJEMTRUP: You know, people who are working multiple jobs, people who are waiting around for factories and things to come back.

People like Elizabeth Warren, people like Joe Biden, people like Bernie Sanders are actually addressing those things. So it's kind of real. What I feel about what the Democratic candidates are doing is that it's real, it's a reality check. ALLEN: We appreciate your insights. We will probably have an opportunity to speak again. Thank you so much, Inge Kjemtrup.

KJEMTRUP: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: ISIS is warning of new attacks in the wake of the U.S. raid that saw the leader of the terror group killed. Next here, we dig into the evolving and growing threat posed by ISIS.

Also, wildfires in California are still going strong and now we're learning more about what sparked them.

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ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

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ALLEN: ISIS is claiming responsibility for an attack on an Iraqi army checkpoint. This happened in a town that's about 60 kilometers north of Baghdad. Iraq says one of its soldiers was killed. This marks the terror group's first attack in Iraq since it confirmed the death of its former leader.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed last week in a raid led by U.S. Special Forces on his compound in northern Syria. In the aftermath of that raid, ISIS had a warning for the U.S. and this is a quote, "Do not be happy about al-Baghdadi's death."

The threat of more attacks is something officials in Washington say they're taking seriously. Here's the counterterrorism coordinator for the U.S. State Department.

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NATHAN SALES, STATE DEPARTMENT COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR: We're aware of the reports that ISIS seeks vengeance for the death of Baghdadi. We have to be prepared for any eventuality. We're constantly on the lookout for ISIS plots to hit us or to hit our interests abroad. Certainly that will remain a top priority for us.

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ALLEN: ISIS announced its new leader as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al- Qurashi. With a look at what we know about him and the threat ISIS still poses globally, I'm joined by Max Abrahms, he is an expert on terrorism and author of the book, "Rules for Rebels: The Science of Victory in Militant History."

Thank you so much for joining us, Max. I want to begin with ISIS's warning not to get victorious over al Baghdadi's death.

What do you think about the warning?

MAX ABRAHMS, AUTHOR: I think it's true. We can't pronounce the group Islamic State dead just because we've (INAUDIBLE) out the leader. However, if you're to ask me to foresee sudden uptick in Islamic State months in the aftermath of this killing, the answer is no.

And the reason is that Islamic State has consistently been trying to mount as many attacks as possible. ISIS regards the United States as a major threat and did so before Baghdadi was killed.

ALLEN: Well and now --

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAHMS: -- going to be interested in attacking us, that has been its goal since 2014.

ALLEN: I want to ask you, though, about the fact that ISIS named a new leader very quickly.

Is this leader known?

ABRAHMS: He's not very well known and it sounds as if they selected somebody just to continue the same sort of blueprint as his predecessor. And that indicates to me that the organization as a whole hasn't learned from Baghdadi's mistakes.

Baghdadi actually wasn't all that clever of a leader as far as militant leaders go. He always wanted to attack as much as possible. He was completely indiscriminate about which targets were permissible to strike. He didn't vet out, he didn't screen out sociopaths from the group.

So this group was sort of aimless in its violence. And what it ended up doing is eliciting the largest counterterrorism coalition ever assembled.

So one of the very few things that the entire world could agree upon is that they needed to work together to take out Islamic State. And that's why Islamic State finds itself in this predicament, where its caliphate has imploded where most of its members are in prison.

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ABRAHMS: So if they're selecting somebody to maintain essentially the same legacy as Baghdadi, then I don't see the Islamic State ever realizing its goals of achieving any (INAUDIBLE).

ALLEN: Well, that is certainly good news. And since you talked about that, I want to bring up the fact that you write about the fact that many of these militant groups, the behavior, depends on the strategic intelligence of the leaders. So what I think I'm hearing you say is that strategic intelligence has not been solid within ISIS.

ABRAHMS: Yes, what I do in the book is I look at hundreds of militant groups from all over the world and I look at whether they've succeeded or failed in terms of achieving their political goals.

And then I try to figure out, using all sorts of social scientific methods, what is it that the leaders of militant groups do to increase the odds of political success.

And what I found essentially -- and this was well before Baghdadi was killed or before the caliphate imploded -- is that Islamic State wasn't being led correctly, particularly in its use of violence.

What smart militant leaders do actually is have a restraining effect on low level members. They tell low level members not to commit too much violence, not to operate in certain countries, not to strike particular targets like children and other civilians, because that will only attract sort of the wrath of the world.

Baghdadi didn't do any of these things. It was like essentially a university with no admissions standards.

Absolutely anybody could become a member of Islamic State, even sociopaths, right?

He called upon lone wolves to commit attacks anywhere they like, to strike anybody on their wish list. And this is really a recipe for political failure and I don't really see a big difference now that Baghdadi is dead.

It sounds like the person replacing him is going to maintain this legacy of trying to be maximally brutal, whereas the smart militant leaders understand the political value of restraint.

ALLEN: Well, yes, we remember that Al Qaeda abhorred the tactics of ISIS and separated itself from ISIS when they started committing these heinous atrocious acts of violence.

Do I hear what you're saying --

(CROSSTALK)

ALLEN: -- go ahead.

ABRAHMS: That's right. That is one of the big differences, is that ISIS was even more radical than Al Qaeda. Now some people may say, well, how could you be more radical than Al Qaeda? Al Qaeda committed the 9/11 attack.

That is true but what happened to Al Qaeda is over time the leadership learned that restraint. Initially bin Laden did not understand that. But what happened was the affiliate in Iraq, Al Qaeda in Iraq, began using violence very indiscriminately, basically blowing up anything that moved.

And bin Laden was a student of militancy. What he understood was that this indiscriminate violence against civilian targets was counterproductive, so increasingly towards the end of his life he began telling operatives, no, use violence more selectively. Only strike against government and military targets, et cetera.

Now it will be interesting to see whether Islamic State also undergoes a similar learning process. But I've seen no signs of that.

ALLEN: Well, that's good news, very good news. We hope what you're saying comes true, that ISIS doesn't have its act together, I think is the bottom line. Max Abrahms, thanks so much for your expertise.

ABRAHMS: Anytime.

ALLEN: Firefighters are pulling out all the stops in California to battle these fires and they hope a little help from the weather could make that job easier. We'll look into that next.

Plus, excitement in Japan and around the world, the Rugby World Cup final is underway. We'll take you live outside Yokohama Stadium.

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ALLEN: Take a look at this right here. This is the start of the Maria wildfire in southern California. That fire began overnight and burned through nearly 9,000 acres. That's 35 square kilometers. Some 1,300 firefighters are still battling these flames. That shows you just how fast it whips up.

The Maria wildfire is the latest to break out, one of at least a dozen burning across the state. But firefighters may be getting a little relief thanks to the weather. Nick Watt is in Santa Paula, California.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That fire's coming right up on him.

NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The Maria Fire scorching 5,000 acres in just a few terrifying hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they've got a lot of fire down here. So, this truck's going to have to go right through this wall of fire. Hats off to these firefighters for doing what they do because it is a dangerous job especially in these wild land fires.

WATT: Thousands evacuated, their homes in danger, 500 firefighters, and some civilians, doing whatever they could.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They let the water go over there.

WATT: There is now an end in sight.

ASSISTANT CHIEF JOHN MCNEIL, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Based on the location, it's eventually going to run out of fuel.

WATT: Still no cause for this blaze, but that 46th fire that popped up yesterday, burning three homes, police now telling us that was sparked by a vehicle fire after a police chase, but the underlying issue with all of the dozen or more fires burning across California, low humidity, dry brush and those high, hot, seasonal Santa Ana winds.

The forecast does look good. The winds have dropped and there are no more Santa Ana wind events in the immediate forecast, so fingers crossed no more destruction here in southern California. Well, at least until the next time -- Nick Watt, CNN, Santa Paula, California.

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ALLEN: Coming up next here, the Rugby World Cup final is well underway now. We'll bring you the latest from outside the stadium on how it's going. England versus South Africa.

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ALLEN: Who will be the next Rugby World Cup champ?

It's England versus South Africa and they're playing right now in Yokohama, Japan. England trying for their second title, South Africa for their third. The teams last faced off in 2007.

No matter who you're rooting for, it looks to be an exciting match. Lets go to Christina Macfarlane on the phone for us from Yokohama. She has been there for the past six weeks covering this story and it comes down to two.

How's it going?

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are deep into the first half here, South Africa has just nudged ahead of England 9-6 on the scoreboard. They have had an extremely lively start here, playing, I would say a clearer game than England at this point, they've absolutely been dominated in the scrum, four-scrum penalty for South Africa in the first half against the England pack.

They are trying to keep the scoreboard ticking over here, not going for the big plays but instead trying to rattle the England defense. It seems to be working because there's a degree, I think, of anxiety and agitation among the England side, not playing the free throwing rugby we saw in the semifinal where they demolished New Zealand so completely and also taking one or two heavy blows in the first half.

One of their key players, Kyle Sinckler, getting knocked out in the first opening, had to come off during the opening half here. As we saw, a really physical battle underway between these two sides.

While the score would indicate otherwise, actually, it is the Springboks who are playing a better game right now. As you mentioned the last time these two teams met in 2007 are where the Springboks won that.

England's only World Cup win in 16 years, the England coach said he has been preparing his team for four years for this moment. They are the youngest side in the professional era ever to make it through to the final. And right now it's interesting to see how this young squad are handling the big stage here. We are heading into the halftime here.

ALLEN: Christina, as you speak, we're seeing some gloomy faces there in London, live video of people watching and, in Johannesburg, we just saw some people cheering, watching this play out. They're feeling confident there. Christina Macfarlane, we'll talk to you again, thanks so much.

U.S. president Trump has declassified the name of the military dog that helped take down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. That's just days before the canine is set to visit the White House. Jeanne Moos shows us how comedians are having a bit of fun with this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We no longer have to say a generic "good boy," the good boy's name is Conan, like the comedian who tweeted, 'that dog is clearly the better Conan." It's enough to make a studio audience say --

JAMES CORDEN, CBS HOST: I know, I like this.

MOOS: "Very cute recreation," is how the president described the Photoshopped image he shared, "but the live version of 'Conan' will be leaving the Middle East for the White House sometime next week."

The photoshop is based on an actual Metal of Honor recipient, James McCloughan was a medic in Vietnam. His head was replaced by the dog's, leaving some to wonder how James McCloughan feels about this?

JAMES MCCLOUGHAN, MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: The first time I looked at it I thought, well they're paying tribute to a dog that did something very brave and very heroic.

MOOS: And when the dog visits the White House --

[05:55:00]

MCCLOUGHAN: Maybe the president will invite me in too, to say hi to the dog.

MOOS: The dog is fully recovering after touching electrical cables while hunting down the leader of ISIS. Apparently one good photoshop begets another. From Putin putting a medal on President Trump, to the dog giving the president a medal labeled "zero." Even son Eric tweeted out a version. The Trump campaign is doggedly raising funds off Conan the canine, selling USA camo dog bandanas for $15. Conan was a hit on late night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CORDEN, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: If you look closely enough you can practically hear Donald Trump whispering to the dog -- you know, a doctor can get you out of military service, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Given the president's penchant for magnificent fast food buffets, can't wait to see what Conan gets fed at the White House. Some were already imagining, like other heroes, Conan is likely to get patted and even hugged.

As for pet owners who wonder, do you think my dog could be trained for such greatness?

Oh sure, that dog will take orders for a latte -- Jeanne Moos, CNN.

TRUMP: A beautiful dog -- a talented dog --

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

All right, Conan. That is CNN NEWSROOM I'm Natalie Allen. For U.S. viewers "NEW DAY" is ahead. For everyone else, I'll be right back with our top stories.