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Interview With Florida Congressman Ted Yoho; Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; North Korea Nuclear Crisis; Trump on Nuclear Arsenal; Harvey Weinstein Investigation; More Women Make Allegations Against Weinstein; 21 Dead, 3,500 Buildings Feared Destroyed in California Fires; 89 Percent of Puerto Rico Still Without Power After Hurricane. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 11, 2017 - 18:30   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: staggering losses. The toll from California's wildfires is growing, with new reports of deaths and destruction, widespread destruction. Hundreds of people are reported missing and strong winds are threatening to fan the flames tonight.

Different attitude. President Trump says he's stronger and tougher on North Korea than others, an apparent new dig at his secretary of state. But the president says he has a good relationship with Rex Tillerson. Tonight, we're learning new details on the meeting where Tillerson allegedly called the president a moron.

Calling Trump insane. As U.S. bombers fly over the Korean Peninsula, North Korea calls President Trump's U.N. speech insane and says he -- quote -- "lit the wick of war." Now the president is saying he wants America's nuclear weapons in tiptop shape.

And releasing Russia's ads. The House Intelligence Committee says it will go public with Russian-linked ads turned over by Facebook for the investigation into Moscow's election meddling.

I will talk about that with the top Democrat on the committee, Congressman Adam Schiff.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news, a fiery nightmare in Northern California right now. At least 21 people are now confirmed dead as multiple infernos race across the region and more than 500 people are now listed as missing.

Thousands more are fleeing the flames, with winds threatening to fuel the fires once again tonight. Officials say 3,500 homes and other buildings have already been destroyed.

Also, new signs of discord between President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as tension with North Korea clearly escalates. The president says he has a different attitude toward North Korea than others, calling himself stronger and tougher, adding that his opinion is the one that matters most.

Trump has publicly criticized Tillerson's diplomatic efforts involving North Korea. The president also says he wants the U.S. nuclear arsenal, in his words, in tiptop shape.

And the House Intelligence Committee now says it will release the election-related Facebook ads that were purchased by Russian-linked accounts. That follows a meeting with the Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, whose company has turned over 3,000 ads for Congress for the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.

We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, and the Republican Congressman Ted Yoho of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

And our correspondents and specialists are also standing by.

But let's begin with the president's tough new talk about North Korea, including an apparent new swipe at his own secretary of state.

Our White House correspondent, Sara Murray, has the very latest for us.

Sara, the president is making clear that he's the guy in charge, that he's the commander in chief.


Today, President Trump acknowledged that while there are members of his administration, members of his Cabinet that may have different views on how to proceed with North Korea, the final decision is up to one man, and that's Trump.


MURRAY (voice-over): As President Trump grapples with North Korea's nuclear threats, he's leaving little doubt as to whose strategic opinion matters the most.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I have a little bit different attitude on North Korea than other people might have. And I listen to everybody, but, ultimately, my attitude is the one that matters, isn't it? That's the way it works.

MURRAY: North Korea's aggressive nuclear posture remains one of Trump's top foreign policy conundrums. It's an issue that has divided his policy, pitting the president against other top advisers.

TRUMP: I think perhaps I feel stronger and tougher on that subject than other people, but I listen to everybody and ultimately I will do what's right for the United States and really what's right for the world.

MURRAY: Trump has even urged his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, to abandon hopes of a diplomatic solution. "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocket man," Trump said in a tweet earlier this month, using his newly minted nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Sources say there has been ongoing friction between Trump and Tillerson. At one point earlier this summer, sources say Tillerson referred to the president as a moron after a meeting.


During an Oval Office meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today, Trump insisted he and his secretary of state get along just fine.

TRUMP: We have a very good relationship. The press really doesn't understand that, but that's OK. We actually have a very good relationship.

MURRAY: During a summer marked by missile tests from Pyongyang, Trump repeatedly made it clear that a U.S. military response is an option.

TRUMP: North Korea best not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury, like the world has never seen.

MURRAY: But, today, he disputed an NBC News report that he wanted a tenfold increase in the nuclear arsenal.

TRUMP: No, I never discussed increasing it. I want it in perfect shape.

MURRAY: This even though Trump has called for bolstering the nation's nuclear capability in the past. In December, he tweeted: "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability, until such a time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

Today, he bragged about the status of America's nuclear weapons stockpile.

TRUMP: I know the capability that we have, believe me. And it is awesome. It is massive.

MURRAY: All while insisting he's not looking to build up the arsenal further, a move that would require congressional approval and be heavily governed by treaties with other nuclear states.

TRUMP: When they said I want 10 times what we have right now, it's totally unnecessary, believe me. But I want modernization and I want total rehabilitation. It's got to be in tiptop shape.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MURRAY: Now, today, President Trump dismissed any talk of tension between himself and his secretary of state as old news. And, in fact, the White House says that Tillerson was, in fact, here yesterday for lunch as well as for a meeting on North Korea. During that meeting, Trump was presented with a range of options on how to move forward -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Because it was a little confusing, Sara, as you know, when he was answering reporters questions. He was asked about his lunch with Secretary Tillerson, and he said very good. "You mean last week, John?" the reporter. "You're so far behind the times. Do you mean today or last week? Because today I didn't have lunch with him."

He didn't seem to remember that he had lunch with Tillerson yesterday, right?

MURRAY: It was a little bit of a perplexing answer from the president. He did meet with Secretary Tillerson and have lunch with him last week as well. But obviously the reporter in that situation was asking about the lunch they had just yesterday.

The president either seemed confused or didn't want to address that fact. Now, Tillerson was in this meeting at least on North Korea with other officials in the room, but, yes, it was a little bit of a perplexing answer from President Trump.

BLITZER: Yes, it was. Sara, thanks very much, Sara Murray over at the White House.

Meanwhile, the United States and key Asian allies are putting on a show of force near North Korea, whose foreign minister says President Trump lit the wick of war with what he calls Mr. Trump's insane speech at the United Nations.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is working the story for us.

Barbara, tough talk, new talk on all sides.


Well, the president is certainly sending messages to North Korea. The question, of course, is what are the North Koreans hearing?


STARR (voice-over): B-1 bombers flying in a show of force over the Pacific, sending the message just one more time to Kim Jong-un that the U.S. is ready to move against him if it comes to that.

President Trump met again with national security officials to review what the White House calls "a range of options to respond to any form of North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons." But when asked if he is on the same page as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:

TRUMP: I think I have a little bit different attitude on North Korea than other people might have. And I listen to everybody, but ultimately my attitude is the one that matters, isn't it?

STARR: The North Korean foreign policy minister telling the Russian state-run TASS Agency President Trump lit the wick of war when he spoke to the U.N.

TRUMP: Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

STARR: Pentagon officials say there will be more U.S. military shows of force. Three aircraft carries could be training together in the region as early as next month, as president-elect Donald Trump called for expanding the nuclear arsenal in a tweet last December: "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

But increasing the nuclear fleet would be hindered by arms control limits and the billions of dollars in costs, and many say it's just not needed.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: There is really no difference between delivering one nuclear device or 10 nuclear devices on the same target. That target will be obliterated regardless.


STARR: Experts say it's more important to fix the weapons on hand.

LEIGHTON: What should have been addressed by the president is the quality of the nuclear weaponry that we have right now. Our nuclear armory does have some issues when it comes to sustainability, reliability, and, quite frankly, usability.

STARR: And cyberspace is now the unseen battle with North Korea. Several defense officials tell the CNN the Pentagon is working on highly classified cyber-war plans against the regime.

North Korea may already be fighting back. The North allegedly hacked into South Korean systems holding the critical war plans involving the U.S., including destroying the North's regime leadership. The Pentagon will only say current war plans are secure.


STARR: And the cyber-security company that often works with the U.S. government is reporting that hackers affiliated with North Korea last month tried to get into U.S. electric power companies. They did not succeed -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's still very, very worrisome. All right, Barbara, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.

Let's get some more on all of this.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida. He's a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee. He's the chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

I want to quickly get your reaction.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says that President Trump could lead the country to World War III. Do you share his concerns?

REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: No, I think the situation could lead to that. And, certainly, nobody wants to go into World War III or any kinetic conflict.

The goal is to put sanctions on North Korea, have the world buy into it, bring them to the negotiating table, and get a diplomatic end to this. You know, all North Korea has to do is look at the satellites at night and compare South Korea to North Korea.

You know, you can see what a democracy and a market economy does, and you can contrast that with Vietnam, who we were at war with, with the Vietnam War. They embraced market economies. They're a communist state, but they're our 16th largest trading partners.

Neither country has a nuclear weapon. So nuclear weapons is not the answer. Economic trade and let's work on those things that we can agree on and then put the nuclear weapons away.

BLITZER: But North Korea clearly is not Vietnam. The North Korean foreign minister just today said President Trump has lit the wick of war, that his speech at the U.N. was insane. President Trump has given indications that he's ready for what's called the military option. Would you support military action against North Korea?

YOHO: Only if North Korea attacked us. At this point, no.

And I don't believe President Trump lit the wick for this. I think we need to go back over the previous administrations, and we have seen this escalation with North Korea gaining missile technology, perfecting them from a nuclear bomb to possibly a hydrogen bomb. This is something that's been going on and on. President Trump didn't light the wick.

We're coming off of eight years of strategic patience, which has turned a blind eye and allowed these regimes to do this. And so President Trump has made a very clear statement saying he will defend the United States, our territories, and our allies, as our agreements with South Korea states.

And so we're going to stand by that. Kim Jong-un is the one that's lighting the wick and fanning the flames by his rhetoric of showing TV commercials of the United States blowing up and talking about how he's going to, you know, light a ring of fire around our fleet out in the Pacific.

So, he's the one that's inflaming this. Donald Trump is the adult in the room saying, enough's enough. We're serious here.

BLITZER: But there's been very angry, nasty rhetoric, as you know, on both sides. And it's not just the last eight years of the Obama administration, when there was what you call strategic patience. The eight years of the Bush administration, the eight years of the Bill Clinton administration.

Diplomacy was tried and repeatedly failed. In part, that's why North Korea now has nuclear bombs, capable of miniaturizing those nuclear bombs.

YOHO: Absolutely.

BLITZER: This has been going on for a long time.

When the president calls the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un little rocket man, does that help?

YOHO: No, I mean, it doesn't help. To get respect, you have got to show respect. And in the beginning, the rhetoric, maybe, you know, to start, I don't know what kind of dialogue, but if we want to come to the table, people have to be respectful of each other, come to the table, and then work out our differences.

You know, the goal is to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, but we have to have a starting point. And so, you know, you're going to do that by showing people respect and we will move forward. But you're not going to get it when North Korea also sits there and he's going to annihilate the United States, our allies, and shooting missiles over Japan.


Those are inflammatory actions. We have not done anything like that. We have continued the military-to-military exercises we have had with South Korea. I believe it's been since the '60s. And we have continued this. This is nothing new. North Korea, again, is the one that's being the aggressor in this.

And I would encourage Kim Jong-un to look at the results of South Korea. They have got a vibrant economy. Look at it night from a satellite or look at how Vietnam is our 16th largest trading partner. We focused on trade, not trying to annihilate each other.

BLITZER: President Trump today said he wants the nuclear arsenal modernized and, in his words, in tiptop shape. Would you like to see a lot more money spent maintaining not only the current nuclear arsenal, but getting that nuclear arsenal modernized, in tiptop shape, as the president says, even if it's going to cost billions and billions of additional dollars? YOHO: Well, the price of freedom is very expensive, Wolf, with the

world today.

It's not just our nuclear arsenal that needs to be in tiptop shape. All of our military needs to be in tiptop shape. This is something, again, if you go back to Bill Clinton, ignored our military. President Bush consumed it. President Obama, you know, did whatever he did. And he didn't rebuild it.

This is a time to rebuild it. Our military readiness and preparedness is not like it should be, and so this is a time to rebuild. And if we don't do it today, it's going to be that much more expensive. And I agree him that we should update it and modernize for the 21st century, in the hopes that we never have to use it.

And that reiterates the word of Ronald Reagan, peace through strength. Or Theodore Roosevelt, walk softly and carry a big stick. And you can only do that by modernizing, have it well-equipped, ready to deploy anywhere, anytime, and hope you never have to do it, and use that as a deterrent, so that we never have to go at war again.

You and I have been at war since we were kids in this country, from Korea to Vietnam to the present-day conflicts. Enough is enough. Let's focus on the human capital that we have, and where can we be if we invest it in research and development and not in wars. And that's through diplomacy and just strong allies.

BLITZER: Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida, Congressman, thanks for joining us.

YOHO: Thanks, Wolf. Have a great day.

BLITZER: You too.

There's more breaking news we're following. The House Intelligence Committee now says it will release election-related Russian ads that ran on Facebook. I will talk to the panel's top Democrat, Adam Schiff. He's here.

Plus, the latest on the worsening wildfires in Northern California. The scale of the disaster is growing tonight.



BLITZER: Breaking news.

President Trump says he's stronger and tougher on North Korea than others, other advisers of his, adding that his attitude toward the Kim, Kim Jong-un, regime is -- quote -- "the one that matters."

Let's get some more from the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff of California.

Congressman, North Korea's foreign minister today said President Trump has lit the wick of war, that his speech at the U.N. was insane.

How concerned are you about how Kim Jong-un's regime is interpreting President Trump's words?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I'm both concerned with the chance for miscalculation, but also concerned that, clearly, the administration doesn't have its act together.

It's not operating all on the same page. You have the president criticizing the secretary of state, who's potentially in a different place than the U.N. ambassador, maybe a different place than our secretary of defense.

If we're going to put the pressure on North Korea and the pressure on China that we need to, to force North Korea to the negotiating table, because that's only way you resolve this diplomatically, we need to be all on the same page, not only with our allies, but internally, and that just doesn't seem to be the case.

BLITZER: It's a serious, serious problem.

Let's turn to what your committee, the House Intelligence Committee, is working on. Today, your committee had a chance to focus in on the Russia investigation. And you met with the Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg.

In light of the Facebook sale of political ads to Russian troll farms, as they're called, what questions did you raise with her?

SCHIFF: Well, we wanted to know when Facebook discovered the Russian use of their platform. Initially, they had thought there wasn't such activity. Now, obviously, there is.

But we also want to know more than the advertising. There was a lot of organic content on the platform that went well beyond the advertising. So, at this point, we only know that one universe of activity, but there was, I think, a lot more engagement by the Russians just on that one platform.

We also want to know what kind of cooperation they're getting from the intelligence community, how we can have a better flow of information, so that when we find foreign nation state actors misusing their platform, there's a way to let them know.

And we also talked about our desire to show the American people these ads. And Mr. Conaway and I have decided to do that. We're going to be working with Facebook to get them to scrub personal information out of the ads. And then we hope to share them with the public.

BLITZER: And Facebook is ready to go for that, right?

SCHIFF: Yes. They are more than willing to have us do that. And they're more than willing to help us in the preparation of the ads.

BLITZER: Why is it so important that we all see these ads right now?

SCHIFF: Well, when you look at them, they are...

BLITZER: You have seen them, right?

SCHIFF: I have seen them.

And they are so cynical in their efforts to exploit divisions within our society. They're what you would expect of a Kremlin hand running this campaign.

And Americans should be aware, this is what foreign actors are doing, but more than that, the Russians think that these divisions are a vulnerability, are a weakness of ours. And they're right.


And they're exploiting it. And I think being armed with better information about what the Russians do will help us protect ourselves.

BLITZER: So when we, the American public, we see these ads, will it change minds out there when they see what the Russians were up to and meddling in the U.S. presidential election?

SCHIFF: You know, I think a couple of things will happen.

On Twitter, the majority of the ads that I have seen were all very slanted against Hillary Clinton. Some of the Facebook ads cut in a political direction. Most of the Facebook ads were really just designed to sow discord.

The intelligence community back in January concluded the Russians had three objects. Yes, it was about helping Trump and hurting Hillary, but more fundamentally, it was about withering away our democracy, sowing discord.

And that's really what the gravamen of what these ads on Facebook were attempting to do. I think people will be repelled by them and also recognize to the degree anybody still has a question about this -- and evidently there are some in the White House who still do -- Russia is not our friend, does not mean us well, and, in fact, means to tear us apart.

BLITZER: Speaking about democracy, on the issue of freedom of the press, today in the Oval Office, President Trump said he believes media outlets, mainstream, major news organizations make up their sources, following a tweet earlier in the day.

He put this up on Twitter. "With all of the fake news coming out of NBC and the networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license? Bad for country."

Is that appropriate for the president to be raising the possibility of shutting down a news organization like NBC News, raising questions about the license they have?

SCHIFF: Of course not. And it hearkens back to when he described the mainstream press as the

enemy of the people. The president asked, at what point is it appropriate to take away a news outlet's license because they criticized the president?

I can tell them the point. It's the point where we become a dictatorship and we're no longer a democracy and we have no First Amendment. And we're never going to allow that to happen here.

BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff of California, thank you.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead: new finger-pointing in the sex scandal surrounding movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. As accusations from more women surface, Manhattan's top federal prosecutors is at odds. The DA there is at odds with New York police.

We're also following breaking news in California, where the death toll climbs and nearly two dozen wildfires are burning out of control. And more mandatory evacuations have just been ordered.




BLITZER: President Trump says he has what he calls a different attitude towards North Korea, calling himself "stronger and tougher" than his advisers.

[18:32:21] Let's get some more on the breaking news with our correspondents and specialists.

And Gloria Borger, when he says that he has a stronger and tougher attitude, will he listen to his advisers? Because he says he is the commander in chief. In the end, it's his decision.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, he's right about that. He is the commander in chief. And in the end, that's the way the system works. It is the president's decision.

But he has said publicly to Rex Tillerson, "You know, Rex, don't waste your time talking to these North Koreans. Don't waste your time with the back channel."

You know that his secretary of defense has also said, "Look, we have to be prepared for military action, but we'd like to try and figure a way around it." And we don't -- you know, we don't really know the answer to that.

This is a president who likes to bring in a lot of people, likes to hear a lot of different scenarios. But in the end, he's going to have to decide, and the generals are going to have to salute.

And I think that, given -- given the relationship between at least Tillerson and the president, which right now is on the rocky road to Tillerson leaving, we just -- you know, we don't -- we really don't know. And I think that's what worries the American public.

BLITZER: Yes, and Bianna, the foreign minister of North Korea said today that President Trump has "lit the wick of war," that his speech at the U.N. was insane. How dangerous is all of this rhetoric?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, YAHOO! NEWS: Well, from all the military experts I've spoken to, the greatest risk still lies in the form of some drastic miscalculation. Something, a fire shot at a vessel in the South China Sea, what have you.

But I think, given the rhetoric that you're talking about here at home, given this sort of vicious cycle where reports are leaked that the secretary of state is calling the president a moron, the president has to come out and say "Not only was that fake news but I'm the ultimate decider, and by the way, I disagree with some of my military advisers when it comes to issues like Iran and when it comes to issues like North Korea."

And don't forget these adversaries -- North Korea, Russia included, China to some degree -- follow what's happening here, and they're just as confused when they see what's playing out within this administration. And when they hear reports that the president wants to increase our nuclear arsenal tenfold, believe me, it gives them incentive to increase their defense spending, as well. The Zapata (ph) war games, for example, that Russia was conducting just ended. China is increasing its military budget.

So I think the greatest threat still lies in the risk of some sort of drastic miscalculation. And we know the president has moments to decide whether or not to actually fire a nuclear weapon.

BLITZER: The president is flatly disputing that report that he wants the -- a tenfold increase in the nuclear arsenal. But he does say he wants to modernize the nuclear arsenal, make sure it's, in his words, "tip-top shape." Is that encouraging to you, Phil?

[18:35:13] PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it is if you assume he's following the detail here.

This is a moment where all the people who think we ought to drain the swamp ought to have reliance on the swamp. You're talking about hundreds of billions of dollars of investment. This goes back to President Obama in terms of modernization of the nuclear force. That's the triad. That's air-based nuclear, sea-based nuclear, land- based nuclear, going out over a decade of work. Not millions, hundreds of billions of dollars. If you want to implement that kind of detailed program, across

continents, across platforms, land, air, sea, over a decade or more, you've got to sit at the table and say, what do future threats look like? Where are we going to deploy this? How are we going to budget this?

I don't believe the president is going to have the attention to detail to do that.

And I mentioned the swamp earlier. This is where the Pentagon will step in and say, "The president is not going to do detail. We'll come in and say, 'Here's the deal, dude. If you want to modernize, this is how we're going to spend it.'" And I suspect the president is going to say, "Great, what do I say on TV? I'm going to go sell it."

BLITZER: In addition to all of that, Jeffrey, the president really went after the news media once again today, in the Oval Office. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've seen tremendously dishonest press. It's not even a question of distortion, like the question that was just asked before about ten times the nuclear capability. I know the capability that we have. Believe me. And it is awesome. It is massive.

And so when they make up the stories like that, that's just made up. And the generals will tell you that.

And then they have their sources that don't exist. In my opinion, they don't exist. They make up the sources. There are no sources.


BLITZER: Now, that statement followed a tweet from his -- very disturbing tweet earlier in the day: "With all of the fake news coming out of NBC and the networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license? Bad for country."

How concerning are these statements about the news media?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, we have a First Amendment in this country. And the reason we have a First Amendment is so the government cannot decide what we hear. And the idea of a president of the United States threatening the license of television networks and television stations is precisely what the First Amendment forbids.

And, you know, it's what's going on in Turkey now. It's what's going on -- it's what -- how it works in China. And I think the question we have is, how much do we simply say, "Well, this is just another crazy tweet and we're going to ignore it"? And how much do ideas like this start to seep into the political and legal mainstream, and we start to actually have people talking about shutting down television networks? Clearly, it can't happen today. But when you have the president of

the United States, for the first time in American history, making a suggestion like this, you know, I think it has an impact.

BORGER: You know, presidents have always complained about the press. That's nothing new. I haven't met a president who actually loved the media.

But saying that we make things up, that we have no sources, and that we ought to lose our licenses as a result, is kind of one step away from saying, "You know, we just ought to have state television," which tells you exactly what the president wants you to hear.

BLITZER: Yes. Bianna, go ahead.

GOLODRYGA: And we would be -- we would be foolish to think that he's the only one who feels that way, by the way. I'm sure that many of his supporters and many people in this country would agree with him.

And when you talk about state television, Russia is a perfect example. It wasn't so long ago that there were numerous independent news networks there, as well, and gradually, I would say, at a much more gradual space than this president has been tweeting, Vladimir Putin did the same thing. He spoke out to the people, saying that "This is, you know, not real news and this is not serving your interests." And slowly, but surely, he created a grasp and a hold on the news media to where I think there's only one independent news network now in Russia.

So we're talking amongst ourselves about how ludicrous this is, and we do have a Constitution that defends our freedom, but don't fool yourself to think that he's the only one who feels that way.

BLITZER: Yes. Very worrisome statement from the president, I must say.

All right. Everybody, stick around. There's another story we're following. Yet another actress has now come forward, adding her story to the sexual assault scandal that brought down the Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein. Will the scandal change Hollywood and other U.S. workplaces?

Also ahead, a live update on a fire catastrophe in California. At least 21 people are now confirmed dead, and some 500 are missing. More mandatory evacuations have been ordered.


[18:44:20] BLITZER: We're back with CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin; and CNN politics, media and business reporter Hadas Gold is joining us, as well, to discuss the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

After decades of alleged harassment and abuse, more women are coming forward with their stories. College student and aspiring actress says in a meeting, Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him. She told "The New Yorker" magazine, "I said over and over, 'I don't want to do this. Stop, don't.'"

Asia Argento, an award-winning Italian actress, says she was lured to Weinstein's hotel room, where he needled her for a massage before forcing oral sex on her. She said, "It wouldn't stop. It was a nightmare."

And Gwyneth Paltrow described in "The New York Times" how, during a work meeting, Weinstein tried to guide her up to his hotel room for massages. She says, "I was petrified."

A statement from the producer's representative says any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.

Hadas, you've been doing a lot of reporting on this. A lot of women are coming forward almost on a daily basis. And most of them are saying, they were simply too scared to talk about publicly about this before.

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Right. And we're seeing a pattern here. A lot of them were young. They were in the early 20s. They were new in their careers. Even Gwyneth Paltrow, she wasn't as well known necessarily as she was -- as she is now. And they were all looking to get ahead.

And he was coming to them and saying, oh, I can help you, I'll put you in my movies. And it just goes to show you the power that Harvey Weinstein had, the power of his movies. This is a guy who create -- he was a producer on the movie like "Shakespeare in Love," "Pulp Fiction," "Gangs of New York," these are huge award-winning movies.

And a lot of these people probably thought, if I make a big deal out of this, I don't have any power here. What do I do, if I want to come forward, I could ruin my career, and if I just go along with this or stay quiet with this, maybe I can get a movie later on.

BLITZER: When you read and hear about Harvey Weinstein's tactics, Jeffrey, they seem to be similar to a pattern we saw with Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, and others, that this was going on, but there were enablers who apparently knew about this, but didn't come forward and discuss and bring attention to it.

TOOBIN: Yes, one you left out was, Donald Trump, also similarly abusing the power that he had with people, at least according to the women who -- the dozen women who have complained about him. But, you know, this is -- here you start with a sociopath. But then you have a system breakdown.

How about the Miramax/Weinstein Company? How many settlements did they pay? How many times did they know this was going on and not bring it to a halt?

How about Cy Vance, the district attorney of New York, who knows there is a serial rapist at work in Manhattan and, you know, investigated one case and decided not to prosecute? How about Disney, which owned Miramax for a time? I mean, over and over again, this was an open secret. There were

jokes about Harvey Weinstein at the Oscar nominations by Seth Macfarlane. There were jokes on -- what was the TV show -- I'm blanking on --

BLITZER: "30 Rock."

TOOBIN: "30 Rock." I mean, this is nothing -- and how about Bill, the Clintons and the Obamas embracing him, even though this was so widely suspected about him? I think it's a dark mark on their record, as well. I think there are a lot of people here who did not cover themselves with glory, and, of course, the real villain is Harvey Weinstein.

BLITZER: And take a look, and we'll put some pictures up. The number of women who have come forward, Hadas, and it seems to be growing. And some of the biggest movie stars out there like Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, there's a lot of famous women there who had to go through this ordeal.

GOLD: It's really incredible that these women also hadn't said anything before, that it takes kind of this cultural shift, this change in people coming forward and putting their names out there and saying, yes, this happened to me, as well.

And I do hope and I think this will represent a change in how people view these types of incidents going forward. That it is sexual assault. That it is sexual harassment, and that they should come forward and feel as though they will be believed and will be supported, because now we're seeing that there are consequences to these actions.

Roger Ailes lost his job. Harvey Weinstein, obviously, is now losing a lot. And hopefully, in the future, it won't take this sort of investigative reporting to bring forward ten or so more women.

BLITZER: He apparently has fled, left -- gone to Europe for so-called rehab. But he faces potentially legal problems if he returns. I assume he'll return to the United States.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. You know, finally, maybe Cy Vance can get off his behind and --

BLITZER: The Manhattan D.A.

TOOBIN: The Manhattan district attorney, and do something. You know, in Ronan Farrow's story in "The New Yorker," the lead example is of a rape in Manhattan. And under the -- there is no statute of limitations for sexual assault in New York state. So, that case could be prosecuted tomorrow. It seems like it is certainly worthy of investigation.

And, you know, perhaps Harvey Weinstein will come back, perhaps he won't. I don't know.

BLITZER: I want to read to you the actress, Heather Graham, wrote this. My hope is that -- and she says, you know, she was attacked, for all practical purposes, by Harvey Weinstein.

My hope is that this moment starts a dialogue on redefining sexual harassment in the workplace and empowers women to speak out when they feel uncomfortable in a situation. I hope that dialogue covers the gray areas where we ask ourselves, did what I think happen just happen? And that we are no longer shamed into feeling that we should just grow a thicker skin or that our story isn't good enough to count?

How significant is this moment?

GOLD: Incredibly significant. And I think part of the reason why people might have been scared to come forward before is, as Harvey himself told to his victims, this is part of the business. If you want to get in, this is how the business works.

And I think what Heather is getting at here is that, maybe we're realizing that no, this is not part of the business. This is not just an acceptable part that everybody just has to swallow and move on with. This is not how things work anymore and it's no longer appropriate.

As we're seeing even from Ben Affleck who's coming forward and apologizing for some of his antics of grabbing women on television, that that's just not how you're supposed to act around people. You're supposed to treat women just as human beings.

BLITZER: I just want to be precise. Heather Graham was not attacked, but she says she felt -- she implied that she could advance her career by sleeping with him and how she made up an excuse to get out of the meeting that Weinstein had in a hotel room, but -- and she was not physically attacked by him. Just want to be precise on that. But obviously a very, very disturbing story we're covering. Hopefully, everyone will learn from this.

Thanks very much, guys, for that.

There's more breaking news we're following. Twenty-one dead, more than 500 missing as wildfires roar across northern California. We're going to go there live.

And we'll also go live to Puerto Rico. Almost 90 percent of the island get this, is still without power, nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria.


BLITZER: Breaking news tonight: at least 21 people are now confirmed dead in the wildfires racing across northern California. More than 500 people are listed as missing and officials fear 3,500 homes and buildings have been destroyed.

CNN's Dan Simon is in one of the hardest hit towns in the wine country, Santa Rosa.

Dan, there's deep concern about winds whipping up once again tonight.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There certainly are, Wolf.

I spent about an hour in a Black Hawk helicopter this afternoon getting an aerial tour of the area. As bad as it looks on the ground, it looks worse from above. Only with that bird's eye perspective do you get a full appreciation of what this area looks like. All of the devastation seen street after street, home after home.

The other thing that struck me, Wolf, is that there's still so much active flame out there. That's why authorities are still evacuating people. I just got an alert a short time ago that people who live in Calistoga, that's about 20 miles northeast of here, they need to evacuate and they need to leave now. They need to pack up their cars and really hit the road because the fire is getting close to that community.

Wolf, this is now the most destructive wildfire in California history, shattering the previous record in 1991. There were 2,900 buildings destroyed back then, 3,500 buildings destroyed now. And, unfortunately, Wolf, it also has the potential to become the deadliest fire in history.

Twenty-one confirmed dead and now, we're looking at some 500 people who are missing. That does not mean that necessarily they are presumed dead by no means are they presume dead. It just means there could be a communication error and hopefully that will get solved quickly.

BLITZER: Let's hope indeed. Dan Simon for us in Santa Rosa.

We're also following the hurricane disaster still playing out on Puerto Rico. The death toll has risen to 45 with more than 110 people unaccounted for.

CNN's Leyla Santiago is in San Juan for us.

Leyla, what, 89 percent of the island is still without power tonight?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that means we are in a worse situation today than we were yesterday. Yesterday, the government reporting that 15 percent of the power had been restored for customers here, and now, that stands at 10 percent. So, to your point, 90 percent still without power at this hour.

And you know, as we went around the island just in the last two days, got outside of where we are right now in San Juan, what we realized is FEMA aid is moving. But at the end of the day, those most vulnerable are not getting the aid and the help that they need.

Let me give you one example. As we went out to Anasco, it is on the western part of the island, we went into a very remote area where they had actually cleared off the debris on a road there. But the concern is that when it rains, it's back to the way it was before, washed out roads. Floods and mud that make it really hard to get people who are so isolated right now.

I met one woman, her name is Lucelenia Rivera. When we went to her home, she was by herself. She had no power. She has asthma. She has arthritis and she cannot get out of the community where she is right now.

She tells me help is minimal. The only person who has come by was someone from the mayor's office.

I want you to listen to my exchange with her.


SANTIAGO: She says she needs power. She needs light. She needs her daily medicines.

These are basic things. These are basic things, three weeks after Maria, she can't get.


BLITZER: What a heartbreaking story indeed.

Leyla Santiago doing extraordinary work for us in Puerto Rico. We'll stay on top of this story. Thanks very much.

That's it for me.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.