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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  November 13, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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on this from you, i'm sure, in the coming days and weeks ahead. rene marsh, thank you very much from washington. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you for being with me for the last two hours. let's send it to jake. "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. one white house official tells the "wall street journal," the president doused a bunch of white house staffers with gasoline and is just waiting for someone to light a match. firing line. president trump said to be itching for a major white house shakeup as the first lady in an extraordinary move tries to get in on her husband's action. we'll tell you who she wants to see sent packing. one guy who could be around for a while, president trump is standing behind his widely criticized acting attorney general now. even as one state is already taking matt whitaker's appointment to court. plus, tell your boss the job is done. the new audio that could directly link the saudi crown prince to the murder of a journalist. so why doesn't the trump
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administration hear the audio that way? welcome to "the lead," i'm jake tapper. this is something we have never seen before, even with all the chaos of the trump administration, to which some of you may have grown a accustomedy now. the first lady, melania trump, calling for a top official on the security council to be fired. the spokeswoman issuing a statement declaring, mira ricardel, the national security adviser, standing behind the president at the white house, saying she should no longer work for the trump administration. quote, it is the position of the office of the first lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this white house, unquote. she still serves in the white house, according to a senior white house official. this remarkable display of dysfunction comes amidst the more typical trump drama with advisers telling reporters that
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president trump is preparing for yet another purge. officials telling cnn president trump is eyeing potential replacement for several key positions in his white house and in his cabinet, including his chief of staff, retired marine general, tom kelly. jeff zeleny, let's start with the shocker of this all. what do we know about why the first lady is publicly calling for a senior national security staffer to be fired, and has that staffer been fired? >> reporter: well, jake, of all the dramas and shakeups here at the white house, and there have been many over the last year and three fourths or so, this is an unusual one, largely because it's the east wing firing a shot at the west wing. the east wing where the first lady's office works. i was told a moment ago by a white house official the president has made the decision to remove and indeed fire this national security adviser, the deputy national security adviser. she's not being escorted out of the white house as some reports indicated. she's being given a little bit of time to collect her things.
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but it comes after there was a bit of drama on the first lady's trip last month to africa. there was some back and forth, some disrespect in the eyes of some advisers to the first lady. now, this is all coming as this deputy national security adviser today happened to be standing only a few feet behind the president at a different event. so it makes the timing of this very curious. another white house drama today. this time, featuring first lady, melania trump, calling for the firing of a deputy national security adviser. an extraordinary shot across the bow from the east wing office of the first lady. which issued this statement today. aimed directly at a top west wing adviser. it is the position of the office of the first lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this white house. the first lady spokeswoman, stephanie grisham, telling cnn. she is mira ricardel, the deputy national security adviser, who has tangled with several officials in the trump white house from defense secretary james mattis to the first lady.
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but today ricardel was standing only a few feet behind the president at a lighting ceremony marking india's most important holiday of the year. cnn has learned the first lady and ricardel were at odds during their recent trip to africa. >> i give him my honest advice and honest opinions. and then he does what he wants to do. >> reporter: it was on that trip where mrs. trump said she didn't trust all of the president's advisers. >> has he had people that you didn't trust working for him? >> yes. >> reporter: the latest dysfunction coming as a staff shakeup is already looming in the west wing and the cabinet. the president ignoring those questions today. >> are you firing secretary nielsen? >> reporter: homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen, could be the next to go, the president could ask for her resignation at any point. >> thank you for your leadership. >> great job. >> reporter: she's been unable to win him over on a major issue, immigration and border security. it could touch off a domino of
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departures. john kelly, nielsen's top advocate in the administration. trump is already talking to a handful of potential replacements for kelly, cnn has learned, including elevating vice president pence's chief of staff, nick airs, to the post. but as democrats assume their majority in the house and prepare to open investigations of the administration, it's unclear whether the ongoing turmoil in the west wing could complicate recruiting qualified candidates. the president has rejected that premise. >> this is a hot white house. we are a white house that people want to work with. >> reporter: so jake, we'll see about that. but the reality here today is the deputy national security adviser again i'm told just a moment ago by a white house official, will be leaving. the president has made that decision. and, again, this comes after a variety of criticism inside the white house by a variety of advisers. but the question here today because of this is what -- because of john bolton, the natural security adviser, who, of course, has the president's ear and support. he brought her into the west
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wing here. so, jake, this is just the beginning of what i believe will be several instances of staff shakeups from cabinet secretaries to other west wing officials. one person here told me today the only people who feel absolutely confident of their jobs are people who are related to the president, ivanka trump and jared kushner. >> actually, ivanka is the only one actually related. but we appreciate your reporting. let's talk about this with my panel of experts. i guess we'll go down the row. i've never seen anything like this, a first lady publicly calling for a national security official to be fired. your reaction. >> last time i checked, we didn't have a royal family, but they sure do like to act like it. listen, if there is insubordination or something really foul here, okay, let's hear it. but i think we all should be concerned, because the first lady is calling for the firing of a national security adviser. last time i checked, the first lady didn't have any national security experience. so i prefer that other people make national security
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decisions, rather than someone who is more than just a former model. >> and this comes as we're already hearing about other staff shakeups, potentially chief of staff, potentially the homeland security secretary. what's your reaction to melania trump voicing this opinion, the national security staffer should be fired? >> i actually agree with amanda. and i want to underscore, where are we? who are we? is this -- this is the united states of america. and i find it very interesting that the first lady seems -- and i have opinions on many other things. but currently has opinions on who should be fired. where were her opinions on very, very -- be best. where are her opinions on the bullying? where are her opinions on things within the purview of this first lady's office? she seems to not have much. but she seems very comfortable singling out someone so i'm very concerned about the way this white house is operating. >> mary kathryn? >> yeah, in this white house you have things ranging from unorthodox to bananas.
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and this -- >> where -- >> clearly over in the bananas camp. this is like -- the public nature of it. and it's also a bit -- i mean, as you're alluding to, it's out of character for her. she does not pop off like this normally, even when some people want her to talk about things, right? so it's very, very weird. and i wonder as the shakeup -- if there is a continued shakeup, goes forward, how does somebody like john bolton react to the fact that someone else has veto power over his deputy help? it's weird. >> paul? >> a tick up for melania. she's my favorite trump. it's a very low bar. but she's my favorite. >> barron is so good. >> first ladies have always been influential. edith wilson ran the country when her husband had a stroke. nancy reagan did it behind the scenes. what's wrong with more transparency? she should state her reasons. because there are really good points, this is national security, it's not normally the purview of the president's
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family members. but if there is some real reason, we should know that too. maybe it's better -- i'm trying. i'm trying, okay? >> no. >> should do it in the open. >> it is a very trump move, in that when they have fights, those fights are always public. and so this -- she went public and she went public first without dealing with it. >> it's survivor, not even just apprentice. apprentice was much more civilized. >> there are two sides to every story, right? this deputy national security adviser, she's not going to come out and give a press conference, statement, a tweet. and what we have here is melania trump, the first lady, shaming this woman. attacking this woman. saying this woman doesn't deserve to work at this white house. we don't know the story. i've just never seen anything like this before. maybe melania, as you say -- maybe the first lady has good reason. >> she should state that reason. >> but how hostile of a workplace is this? they treat the people who go to serve them in good faith with such hostility and slam the door on them as they go out.
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i mean, what is the purpose here? i mean, i really wanted to give melania a fair chance. and i thought she was doing a great job as first lady, until you had that moment with the i just don't care jacket. she was so concerned about sending that message to her husband or whoever, she didn't care what the rest of the country thought. >> i think it was the liberal media. >> whatever story she came up with. but why is she dragging all this drama out? why is she dragging us into this? i mean, this is a really weird, bizarre development. and it's not the first time. >> if i could -- if i could just say, i also -- why is the white house administration dragging us through any of this? california is literally burning as we speak. there are people that have lost their lives, and the -- i mean, the president and his white house and the first lady are engaging in what's the equivalent of something you would see on vh1 during the basketball wives of new york or wherever the basketball wives are. >> not exactly resistant to talk
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about it. so there's -- >> are we supposed to ignore it? >> no, i'm just saying this is definitely -- >> on pennsylvania avenue? >> we're not talking about -- >> no, i hear you. we have other panels on the show and we'll talk about other issues. that's right. and the other thing is, this quote -- >> i'm just saying, we're not being dragged. >> well, i don't know what we're supposed to do, though. >> we are being dragged. no, we are being dragged. we are being dragged. they want this to happen. the white house refuses to focus on -- >> she said resist. but i don't know how you resist the first lady, you know, throwing shade on a sitting deputy national security official, and then you have one white house official, put it this way to the "wall street journal"'s michael bender about the general disfunction, the fact we're nearing the end of the season of "survivor," this is how the president works, he's doused a bunch of people in gas line and waiting for someone to light a match about general kelly, white house chief of staff, secretary nielsen, other positions, too. and all these people living in
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dread. you worked in a white house. you're the only one here who has worked in a white house. and certainly there were times when people's jobs were on the line. and i remember rahm emanuel's job was on the line for a long time. how did bill clinton deal with that sort of thing? >> well, through his chief of staff. the hardest person to fire is the chief of staff. you go to the chief of staff. you run the staff, and you say, okay erskine bowles, john podesta, you need to fire that woman, that guy. there's an order. there's a process. and this president seems completely immune to that. he's got a completely dysfunctional white house. and i have to say, that should not have been a surprise. it's not like he ran saying he was -- beaver cleaver. >> that's right. >> but when general kelly came on, a lot of people said he's a four-star marine, he'll bring order and discipline. and if i can brag on myself, i said no way. because the problem was not the chief of staff or the staff. it's the president of the united states. the fish rots from the head down. and the first lady going public -- i'm a little more cool with it than most of my co
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panelists. but it is extraordinary, and it is dysfunctional. i don't know how anybody can do their job in that mess now. because who knows who the hell is in charge? >> i would like to know, the reason -- one of the main reasons i'm uncomfortable with the first lady going public, if this was michelle obama, she would have been vilified. and so there are different -- every step of the way, we find out there are different rules for the obama white house than there are for the trump white house. and it's just upsetting. >> vilified for telling people to eat carrots. >> and wearing her arms out. and melania is traipsing around america -- i can't. i just can't. >> stick around. we have a lot more to talk about. sources saying president trump is digging in on his acting attorney general pick as the white house is already being taken to court over matthew whitaker's appointment. and garden hoses and buckets. that's how one man fought off the california fire as it surrounded his home with his 89-year-old mother inside. stay with us.
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politics now. well, it looked as if president trump at one point wanted to distance himself from his new acting attorney general, and all the criticism the appointment brought. today there's apparently a new white house strategy. two senior administration officials tell cnn the president is digging in on his appointment of matt whitaker, the man now in charge of bob mueller's russia investigation, despite repeatedly having attacked it in the past. laura jarrett is at the justice department for us. and one key legal opinion could help him stay put. >> reporter: that's right, jake. we're waiting to see that legal opinion from the office of legal counsel over here at the justice department. and while it wouldn't be binding on a federal court, it is expected to offer the most robust defense of whitaker's
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surprise appointment as constitutional thus far. after a rocky start, the administration gearing up tuesday for its first legal challenge on the controversial appointment of matt whitaker as the acting attorney general. the state of maryland arguing in court papers that president trump bypassed the constitution when he named whitaker to replace jeff sessions. writing that trump is, quote, attempting to fill a vacancy he created himself with a temporary appointment that might last for many months or years. concerns echoed for days by democrats on capitol hill. >> i think matthew whitaker's appointment was unconstitutional, illegal and just plain wrong. it's unconstitutional, because he's not been subjected to the confirmation process. >> reporter: as part of a lawsuit over the future of obamacare, a federal judge may now decide that deputy attorney general rod rosenstein is sessions' rightful successor if maryland prevails. at the same time, the office of legal counsel at doj preparing soon to issue a legal opinion, defending whitaker's appointment
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under federal law. >> no matter what the trump justice department says, there is no acceptable justification for this appointment. >> reporter: the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, republican senator chuck grassley, who, like whitaker, is from iowa, tried to dismiss his colleague's concerns about whitaker shutting down the special counsel's russia investigation. >> doesn't matter what whitaker thinks. the president said it isn't going to be done. >> reporter: while also signaling clear disagreement with whitaker's views on a famous supreme court case many people view as the cornerstone of the judiciary's branch's powers. >> if you would like to have an iowan tell another iowan which mr. whitaker is, and i know him well, he ought to forget that. i'm not a lawyer, but marbury versus madison is the basis of our -- the judicial branch checking the other two branches of the government, as far as i'm concerned. >> reporter: earlier this
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afternoon, the top democrat on the senate judiciary committee, dianne feinstein, called on her colleague, chuck grassley, to schedule hearings, not only for whitaker, but also the former attorney general, jeff sessions. no telling when grassley will agree to do that in this lame duck period. jake? >> laura jarrett at the justice department, thanks so much. i want you to listen to the reasoning of whitaker's appointment by former new jersey governor and white house ally, chris christie. >> i think he's really there to land the mueller investigation. to get it done. i think the president -- i think wisely did not want to bring a new person into the mix, who was not already in the department. >> so whitaker, according to christie, is there to land the mueller investigation. but that's exactly what the president's critics and whitaker's critics are concerned about. >> right, the pilot of the mueller investigation should be mr. mueller, and rod rosenstein. the notion that the president should decide when it land it, it's called obstruction of justice, because he is involved, to say the least, in that
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investigation. he may well be a target of the investigation. it's -- the whole process just like the last -- mrs. trump calling for somebody to be fired. you go to the office of legal counsel before you take the action. and you say, hey, boys and girls, you're the best lawyers we have in this government. why don't you tell me if it's cool to put this clown from iowa -- excuse me, this distinguished citizen -- >> thank you. >> they're not running basic traps, it's really appalling. they're not even good at being corrupt. >> you like more transparency, as we discussed earlier. >> i do. >> clumsiness. >> this is pretty transparent. and here's a guy who thinks that the mueller investigation is a joke and a witch hunt, who has said that donald trump jr. taking that meeting with the russians, there's nothing wrong with that. anybody would have done it, which is somebothing a lot of people don't agree with, including steve ban nonnon, who called that meeting treasonous.
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>> as governor christie mentioned, if they need somebody who has been there for a while, there's a guy who has been there for a while. >> even if you don't like rod rosenstein, which the president doesn't, apparently, there's the solicitor general. there's a whole chart. >> i think it's obvious best practices also for someone who has spoken specifically about this investigation not to take on that investigation. that is -- seems clear to me. but things that seem clear to me and ethically clear to me do not always seem clear to the white house. here we are. i guess it will go through the legal challenges, because it did not do so before the fact so we have to play this out once again in public. there were plenty of options that were not this one. >> i'm surprisinglizen. i think we all agree that mueller is a pretty smart guy. he probably planned for this scenario, given the fact that donald trump has called it a rigged witch hunt. robert mueller has planned for this scenario, okay? he has diversified his portfolio by handing off investigations
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like michael cohen, maria butina. he's planned for this. there are probably sealed indictments a judge will decide to make public, not rod rosenstein. whitaker. he's locked and loaded. >> the incoming chairman of the house judiciary committee, jerry nadler, democrat from new york, told me that whitaker is the first person they're going to call to testify. >> he should be the first person. he has not been confirmed by the senate. this is really concerning, yes. i'm sure robert mueller has plans for this. but attorney general is charge -- oversees more than the mueller investigation. we don't know where matthew whitaker stands on civil rights. we don't know where matthew whitaker stands on protections for violence against -- we don't know. we don't know what he stands for. i do know that he thinks the russia investigation is a witch hunt, and that he stands with the president. and that is concerning. and we will hear from him. we all know, jake, we don't have the answers. >> everyone stick around. the first day of orientation for new members of congress and many
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are already being asked about one thing. what is that one thing? that's next. stay with us.
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book at so, let's talk about conference calls. there's always a certain amount of fumbling. a lot of times it doesn't work. we have problems. comcast business goes beyond fast. by letting you make and receive calls from any device using your business line. and conference calls you can join without any dial-ins or pins. (phone) there are currently 3 members in this conference. i like that. i like that too. i would use that in a heartbeat. get started with innovative voice solutions for a low price when you get fast, reliable internet. comcast business. beyond fast. we're back with our politics lead. in one week after record-setting voter turnout in a midterm election in the u.s., millions of americans still don't know who their new representative is. ten house races remain undecided right now. democrats currently lead in six of those races. republicans in the other four.
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the rest of the new members of congress flooded capitol hill today for orientation. but it's not just meetings and tours. there's mounting pressure for some of these new house democrats to pick a side within their own party. cnn's manu raju is live on capitol hill. and manu, they haven't even moved into their new offices yet. i don't know if they've had the lottery yet. but for freshman representatives who pledged they would not vote for nancy pelosi, the pressure is on to break that promise. >> reporter: yeah, because they're facing pressure from both sides, from pelosi supporters, starting to woo them, urging them to get behind nancy pelosi for speaker who does not have any sort of candidate who is running against her. and also they need her support in a lot of ways to elevate themselves within the caucus if she is elected speaker. they'll need positions on key committees. so these new members facing a lot of pressure, even though ten freshmen members said they would vote against her and 13 incumbent democrats also said they would vote against her. the question is will they do
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that ultimately. today we caught up with some of those members who made it clear they're still making up their minds. >> there's got to be paths for everybody to get there. but this moment, this time in american history, i think she is the leader. >> last question, i'm looking at the fact that whoever is running for any of the elected positions in leadership requires me to do appropriate due diligence and then i'll make a decision after that. >> now, the process here is important, because later this month, the house democratic caucus will vote to nominate their candidate for speaker. and a majority of those members will vote for that person. it will be almost certainly nancy pelosi will get the majority of support within the democratic caucus. now, next year, though, is the big vote. in january to actually elect the speaker. that's when the majority of the full house will decide how to vote. and some of those freshmen and incumbent democrats who said they would oppose pelosi are not saying they'll vote no on the floor of the house, which will be that key vote. and that's when all the pressure
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will mount for them to choose a side and we'll see if they ultimately come out against nancy pelosi, even though right now no candidate has yet emerged. and she has an overwhelming support for most of the democratic caucus, jake. >> all right. manu raju on capitol hill, thank you so much. so paul and everyone else, let's do the math. right now democrats hold 225 seats in the house. here's a list of incumbents and incoming democrats who have previously said they are no on pelosi. 23 total. as of now, pelosi needs -- you need 218 votes to become speaker, as of january. that leaves us at 202 yes votes right now. we still have these ten seats undecided. even if they all vote for democrats and all voted for pelosi, that's 212. that's not enough. so is nancy pelosi going to be the next speaker? >> yes. >> so what's going to happen? they're going to break their promises. >> i think they can vote present and that lowers the threshold from 218, under house rules. that's a cheat there, a play in the system. but the democrats are taking the majority because of women.
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women candidates, women volunteers, women donors, women voters. and if my party fires the first woman speaker after being given the majority by women, there would be hell to pay. and there ought to be. by the way, a tax on nancy pelosi didn't stop the democrats from having the best election they've had in 44 years in the midterm. so i am actually not terribly frightened of the attacks on pelosi. they tried their best, over 100,000 ads targeted her and the democrats won a huge blue wave, a landslide, given the gerrymander district. so i think it's fine. >> an interesting statistic. of the 23 nos on pelosi, as of now, s now, 6 of those 23 are women. meaning that's an overwhelmingly male no caucus. >> let me speak up for nancy pelosi, unexpectedly. >> interesting. he's speaking for melania, and you're for nancy pelosi. >> and not because it's
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advantageous on the margins to have her in that position, which i do, for republicans. but look, democrats had a good night. she wasn't walking away when they were having terrible nights. this is one of my favorite things about her. in the press conference after shellacking, you're going to walk away from this, she's like, nah, pass. i raised a lot of money, i'm powerful and i'm sticking right with this. so it's hard to reason that she should now in the wake of this. and further -- she does raise a lot of money. if they vote against her, there's this -- there's the committee stuff where she has the power to say i'm going to put you on the committee of small appliance regulation, and people don't take kindly to that. it doesn't help them serve their folks. >> i'm told -- sorry, i got it wrong. 7 of the 23 are female. still an overwhelming no male caucus. do you want to see pelosi as speaker of the house? >> look, i have said this before and i'm going to say it again. there is an argument to be made that we should be building a pipeline for leadership in the democratic party from the house of representatives to senate all the way on down the line. but the fact of the matter is,
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if someone would like nancy pelosi's job, they need to demonstrate they can do it just as good if not better than her. and no one has done that. no one has demonstrated they can raise the money leader pelosi can raise, they can keep a caucus together the way she is able to do. that they can put their feet on the road, hit the pavement and, you know, really make a difference. so i think that she will be the next speaker. i think the real battle will be who -- what does the other house leadership look like on the democratic side. as it stands now, we just lay it all out there. it would be overwhelmingly white. and jim clyburn, as a whip. so there's questions now about how can we -- yes, we need women. we need people of color. we need to make sure that the leadership of representative of what we say the country is, but frankly, what the democratic party is. >> and amanda, listen to the arguments, the arguments being made. i'm going to sound bites for question three now. the argument being made for pelosi's leadership from some of her allies who have said, we need to elect pelosi as the
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second female house speaker. she was also the first house speaker who was a woman. take a listen. >> now that we have all of these women coming into the congress, it would be a damn shame that you then replaced this fearless leader with a man. >> elijah cummings incoming chairman of the house oversight committee. do you agree? >> listen, she's powerful. she's led them to victory. she has locked up all of the powerful committee chairs. she knows what she's doing and people are scared of her. look to the fact, there are more house democrats willing to run for president than to challenge nancy pelosi for speaker. and if she is really in trouble -- a good number of republicans would vote for her, because as mary kathryn pointed out, she is still a great bogeyman, they are addicted to making ads about. >> one of the most high-profile incoming freshmen or freshwomen is alex andrea owe cosr casto c.
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here's what she said. oh, this is not about personality. this is not about rebuke. it's not about confrontation. it's about making sure we are getting the job done. what does that mean? >> if i could say, you know, i think ocasio-cortez comes from the world of protests. she has been an activist and agitator. there is something to be said when they become elected officials. and now her role has to shift a little bit. so perhaps she shouldn't be in the protest outside leader pelosi's office. perhaps should have a meeting with leader pelosi to talk about her concerns. but the fact of the matter is, what we're going to see in this next congress is a new wave of young people that are going to shake things up, that are willing to do things differently. but with he might need to be a little flexible in terms of what we bring into the congress. >> that's symone
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sanders --@symone sanders is her twitter handle. i didn't say that -- >> that's good advice. >> i'm saying that because of this. everybody has to play a role. we need activists, advocates, elected officials. you know, i like to say, i'm not a real activist. i just play one on tv. because i need to be sitting on cnn telling folks why people are dying in. we need our elected if officials to legislate. >> so then there is also the impeachment issue, okay? according to cnn's midterm exit polls, 77% -- 77% of democrats support impeaching president trump. a "washington post" analysis found only 21% of new house democrats are ready to talk impeachment. what do they do? >> they wait for the republicans to ask them to impeach the president and they don't do it until then. >> but let's wait to see what the mueller report is. i'm sure the president is guilty of everything, because i don't like him. but don't let my prejudice -- >> transparency! >> no, but my point is, don't give into your prejudice. as a democrat, do i want to get
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trump out of office? of course i do, tomorrow. please. but that's not the process. >> so don't follow the democratic base is what you're saying. >> that's right. and when george w. bush was president and nancy pelosi was speaker last time, there was huge pressure for her to impeach dick cheney first and then bush because they're horrible, evil people. she wouldn't even have it discussed. she will not have it discussed again until the republicans come to her and say help us impeach this guy. >> the temptation, as simone points out, is to do the activist thing you did before coming to congress, if you're a woke member of congress. that won't play well, same with this thing. and nancy pelosi broadcast some of this in her post election speech when she did not go after trump. >> he stayed behind with his elderly, blind mother to fight the deadliest wildfire in the history of california with a garden hose. that incredible story, coming up next.
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we just got married. we're all under one roof now. congratulations. thank you. how many kids? my two. his three. along with two dogs and jake, our new parrot. that is quite the family. quite a lot of colleges to pay for though. a lot of colleges. you get any financial advice? yeah, but i'm pretty sure it's the same plan they sold me before. well your situation's totally changed now. right, right. how 'bout a plan that works for 5 kids, 2 dogs and jake over here? that would be great. that would be great. that okay with you, jake? get a portfolio that works for you now and as your needs change from td ameritrade investment management.
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in our national lead today, 42 people today are dead, even more acing as the camp fire, as the deadliest wildfire in california history continues to spread and wreak havoc, destroying more than 6,000 homes and reducing entire towns in california to ashes. this is just one of three fires raging in california right now. the other two just outside los angeles. and also deadly and destructive. hurricane-force gusts expected to fuel the fires today where 21 million people are all under a red flag warning, the highest possible alert. let's go back to the beast in northern california, where we find cnn's nick valencia. nick, you talked to someone who has stayed behind as the fire came in. >> reporter: jake, despite all the images of devastation in paradise, four days after this
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fire ripped through this community taking 90% with it, we're hearing incredible stories of survival. we talked to one man who chose not to leave and live to tell about it. >> everything around us was on fire, and we knew it was time. >> reporter: while everyone else in paradise was fleeing the fire, brad weldon decided to stay put at home and fight it himself. >> for the first few house -- >> reporter: you're using this garden hose? >> this garden hose, one out there, one in the front. one on the roof and one out by the shop. >> reporter: so how much help do you have? you have -- >> me and my 26-year-old helper. my mom's caregiver. >> reporter: inside, his 89-year-old mother, norma weldon, who is blind. she didn't want to leave, so the two men went outside to fight the blaze as it closed in on them. >> there were times when we were lying on the ground pouring water on ourselves so we didn't burn. >> reporter: was there ever a point you thought you were going to die? >> oh, yeah, quite a few. >> reporter: four hours into battling the blaze, the garden
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hose runs out of water so they use the pool. >> then it's time to start running with five-gallon buckets and that's even more intense. you're already tired. >> reporter: who are you? >> just an old man! i'm just an old guy, man. >> reporter: just an old man that wanted to keep his home from burning up. >> yep. >> reporter: he recorded cell phone video as his home began to burn. >> feels good to have it. feels so sad for everyone, though. everybody i know lost everything. and it's sad. >> reporter: the camp fire tearing through northern california is now the most lethal fire in state history. responsible for at least 42 deaths and now 30% contained. the woolsey fire also remains active in southern california, destroying 93,000 acres so far. in butte county alone, more than 1,500 welfare checks have been called into officials from residents who cannot find their loved ones. brad and his friend mik mccray, consider themselves lucky. >> a few loaves of bread.
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>> reporter: five days after surviving the blaze, they have a few supplies to last a few days. police have told them if they leave to get more, they won't be allowed to return to the home they nearly died to save. >> i'm not asking anybody for a handout, i'm just asking to be able to take care of myself. if they'll let me do that, we can live here indefinitely. >> reporter: an incredible story. just such a positive person there, jake. he says though he is surrounded by so much to be discouraged, he's determined to see paradise rebuild. and just a little while ago, we learned that the secretary of interior is expected to come to california to visit with those affected by the fire. weldon tells me he wants president trump to visit here. he says he voted for the president, and says that this is too big of a disaster for president trump not to show up here. jake? >> nick valencia in paradise, california, thank you so much. switching to our politics lead, after a tough loss to democrats for arizona senate seat, it remains unclear as of now when voters will learn who has won in florida. with lawsuits from democrats and
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republicans being filed, and despite the request of a florida jud judge, the politicians ramp down their rhetoric, continued tweets containing false and incendiary allegations by the president are issued. cnn's ryan nobles joins me from florida. republican rick scott is up more than 12,000 votes in the senate race against incumbent democrat, bill fenelson. what are the counties doing in florida right now? >> reporter: jake, they're still counting and will continue counting until that 3:00 p.m. deadline on thursday. this, of course, the recount of the initial count that came in saturday. and as it stands right now, most of these counties are confident they'll get it done on time. for the first time since before election day, bill nelson still hoping to hold on to his seat in the u.s. senate appeared in public. the florida democrat trailing governor rick scott by more than 12,000 votes and clinging to the extremely unlikely hope a recount will turn the tide in his favor, returned to washington appearing with democratic leader, chuck schumer, vowing to make sure
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every vote was counted. >> it's become clear that my opponent isn't interested in making sure that every lawful vote is counted. he's thrown around words like "voter fraud." with no proof. we will work to see that the recount is conducted fairly and that the rule of law is followed. >> reporter: nelson's legal team has filed a flurry of lawsuits designed to challenge existing florida law and the way florida law is implemented. four different suits will force a judge to rule on the state's signature match requirements, deadlines and post marks for vote by mail ballots, intervening in a lawsuit to extend the recount time in palm beach county and the validity of the rules regarding voter intent. >> there are constitutional issues raised by the standards, and they have every right to raise those issues in a court of law where a judge will decide. >> reporter: testimony in those cases starts tomorrow. for his part, president trump
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remains very interested in this race. tweeting about it for the second day in a row. calling on nelson to concede and still hinting that the recount process could be tainted. to be clear, there's been no direct evidence of any attempt to purposely corrupt the counting process. but republicans continue to hammer at the nelson team's legal approach to the issue, calling it desperate, and calling for nelson to accept his loss gracefully. >> and he wants to shine a light on the noncompliance with florida's anti fraud laws. fraud hides in the shadows of noncompliance. >> reporter: meanwhile, the counting churns on. some smaller counties aiming to have their recounts complete by today. all eyes remain on heavily populated and heavily democratic broward county where brenda snipes, the beleaguered supervisor of elections, whose competence has been questioned, promised that despite a delay, they will get their work done on time. snipes, under fire from even the former governor who appointed her to the position, suggested she's on her way out the door.
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>> well, i haven't finalized that. i'll just check with my family and they'll tell me what i'm doing. >> reporter: and tonight we are outside of federal court. that's where that testimony will be heard on some of those key lawsuits that are a big part of this recount. and jake, the question is, does bill nelson have any chance of truly flipping this race if he doesn't win one or more of these lawsuits. it's important to remember that no election in american history has ever overcome the number of votes between these two candidates in a recount, and changed the results from election night. jake? >> giving me flashbacks, ryan. thanks so much. good report from tallahassee. now to our world lead. is the trump white house helping the saudi crown prince cover up his alleged role in the murder of saudi journalist, jamal khashoggi. new audio could link the killing to the saudi crown prince, but the trump administration today said it doesn't necessarily agree with that interpretation. according to the "new york times," a member of the assassin
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team is on tape, tell your boss the mission is complete. u.s. intelligence officials believe that boss is mohamed bin salman. but without having heard the tape himself, today the president's national security adviser, john bolton, refrained from such a conclusion. i want to bring in bob baer, cnn intelligence analyst. bob, from your days as a cia operative, do you see this tape and what we know of it as a smoking gun? could the speaker be referring to anyone else other than the crown prince when he says tell your boss? >> no. the way saudi arabia is run today, mohamed bin salman is an autocrat. security services, the rest of the country, he's in control. the saudis do not have rogue operations ever. it's never occurred. the chances that mohamed bin salman ordered this, we're hitting 100%. i think in this tape there's more confirmation. kattany, his aide, who ran this operation, apparently, he's the guy you would call and tell
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mohamed bin salman. but frankly, the white house at this point doesn't know what to do. i think they would like to wedge this guy out. the crown prince. but they don't know how. so they are stuck with this guy. and i don't see the saudis getting rid of him either. so, you know, we have a psychopath sitting, you know, in riyadh controlling this country. >> it does seem as though you have the intelligence community leaking to the "new york times" saying this is what we heard, and this is what we think it is. we think it is a direct link to the crown prince. and then ambassador bolton, national security adviser, asked about it, and he says, you know, i haven't heard the tape, but for the people who have heard it, they don't reach that conclusion. but some of them have heard the tape, and have reached that conclusion. >> oh, i think with anybody, any sense, have reached that conclusion. the turks certainly have, and they have a lot of information. and just the fact that the prince -- crown prince's entourage, security detail, participated in the murder, tells me all i need to know. and i think anybody who knows
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saudi arabia -- you know, at this point, the white house -- they don't see a way out, frankly. they do not see a way out. saudi arabia is a volcano right now, and to try to push the crown prince out, we don't have any -- you know, things -- players there on our side. we don't know what to do. >> so it's almost as if you see just, like, being -- you know, in strict machiavellian real politic, the white house is helping the crown prince cover up a crime. but the u.s. doesn't really have any options here without the entire region exploding. that seems to be what you're saying. >> exactly. i think saudi arabia, there's -- there's a stability problem. the crown prince has gotten rid of all the family consensus, which has run saudi arabia since 32. he's thrown the national guard commanders in jail. no saudi prince has ever done this ever in its history. and i think what worries the white house is this country could pop. and what would we do then? frankly, it sits on a third of the world's oil reserves, if you
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include the other arab sheikhdoms. >> so it's the same kind of bargain that u.s. policy makers have been making for decades with saudi arabia about its behavior, its human rights abuses, what it's doing in yemen, et cetera. they are too important and it's too important for -- to keep that powder keg, the lid on it right now. >> and the world's economy. we have always turned a blind eye to what's going on in saudi arabia right from the beginning. human rights violations, wars, 9/11. and the rest of it. and, you know, we're stuck again. but it could be worse this time. >> you're depressing me, bob. thank you so much. i appreciate your analysis. coming up, more on the breaking news coming out of the white house. a source telling cnn president trump has made the decision to fire that deputy national security adviser. but what does any of this have to do with his wife, who called for her firing? stay with us.
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happening now. breaking news. firing squad. in a truly stunning rebuke, the first lady demands the firing of the white house deputy national security adviser. while the president is said to be ready to oust his homeland security secretary and other top officials. is the white house at war with itself? collusion questions. the president and his legal team go over written questions from the special counsel, focusing in on possible collusion with russia. will the president also answer questions on obstruction? and will he meet robert mueller face-to-face? demanding the pass. cnn sues