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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Derailed Train Car Dangles Over Highway, At Least 3 Deaths; Sources: President Trump Predicts Exoneration, Allies Fear Meltdown; Interview with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; Trump Transition Team, Mueller Spar Over Emails. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired December 18, 2017 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:13] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm John Berman, in for Anderson.

We begin with tragedy in Washington state. A deadly train derailment near the city of DuPont has killed at least three people and sent dozens to the hospital. The derailment left part of the train dangling over an Interstate 5 overpass. Thirteen of the 14 cars jumped the tracks. The NTSB is sending a 20-member team to investigate as we speak.

Joining me now by phone is Brooke Bova with the Washington state patrol.

Trooper Bova, thanks so much for being with us.

What can you tell us about the search for people who still might be inside the derailed cars?

BROOKE BOVA, WASHINGTON STATE PATROL PIO (via telephone): I'm being told that all of the derailed cars and all of the vehicles on the ground have been searched.

BERMAN: At this point, they have all been searched?

BOVA: That's what I have been told, fire crews and rescues -- they have searched all of the cars. And so, our firm number at this point is three casualties. However, there are some very critically injured people. So, we don't know if that number will change.

BERMAN: OK, because this is an important development for us. Up until this point, we were led to believe that some of the cars were not safe enough to go in. At this point, you believe all the cars have been searched, so there are no people, as far as you know, left inside?

BOVA: Not from what I'm being told. Fire has said that they have searched all of the cars and that's the information I'm given at this time.

BERMAN: So, three people killed, many more injured, some in critical condition. Do you have any idea how many are in the hospital at this point?

BOVA: Our latest, we said roughly 100, give or take a few, were transported to local area hospitals.

BERMAN: I know many state troopers were the first to reach the scene. Have you ever seen anything like this before?

BOVA: You know, it's difficult, as a state trooper, you see very different things and you're never quite prepared for anything like this. This is a magnitude that I haven't seen in my career and it's very tragic. So it is rare.

BERMAN: The scene of the accident, you say all of the cars have been searched and they are secure. Is the scene itself safe? We see these cars perched precariously over the highway right now. Is there any concern for the scene?

BOVA: Yes, there is. So, state patrol did their initial investigation and they have scanners and they've completed their investigation. There are other -- it's a collaborative effort right now, and other departments are doing their investigation.

We cannot secure those other rail cars until they're done with their investigation, but we do have some cranes and equipment here to secure that and make the scene safe.

BERMAN: So, the safety concerns that were raised about this high- speed train, do you know if any of those concerns were ever brought to Washington state patrol?

BOVA: I don't know. Sorry. Not at my level.

BERMAN: No, I understand. There were different investigations going on right now, and different concerns for different areas of law enforcement. But at this point, as we head into evening in Washington state, what can you tell us about the investigation?

BOVA: At this point, like I said, state patrol has done their investigation. They're standing by to be in assistance. We're waiting for NTSB to start their investigation and just cause quite the backup in Washington state. We've had to shut down the freeway and this is a main artery throughout Washington. So, that is state patrol's big concern right now, along with recovery and just making sure that everybody is safe and that families are reunited.

BERMAN: All right. Brooke Bova of Washington state patrol, again, thank you for bringing us the breaking news. All the train cars now believed to have been searched. The death toll stands at three with no one left on the cars, as far as the state patrol knows, many injured, including some in critical condition. We'll bring you much more on the deadly derailment over the next two hours as more information comes in.

Tonight, though, we are keeping them honest with new reporting. It seems to be an alternate reality for the president, a reality where he sees no security threat of Russian meddling, no political threat from Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. In fact, no "R" word all together inside the White House at times because some aides are reportedly scared to bring it up, which wouldn't matter except for the fact that intelligence officials say there is every reason to believe the Russians will try to do this again.

The president is telling friends he's expecting something of a Christmas miracle in the Russia probe. This is according to new exclusive reporting from CNN's Sara Murray, Jeremy Diamond, and Manu Raju.

According to multiple sources, the president is insisting not only that he's going to be exonerated and soon, but also that special counsel Robert Mueller is going to write a letter clearing him of any wrongdoing that he can wave around as proof that he didn't do anything wrong. A Christmas miracle.

Now, keeping them honest, there's no indication from Mueller or his team that they believe in miracles or that the investigation is in its final stages, only Mueller and his team know for sure.

[20:05:02] But some legal experts say the investigation might actually be ramping up with Michael Flynn's guilt plea in cooperation.

As to the best Christmas card ever, this magical letter of exoneration, it's unclear where that idea even comes from. The real problem, though, according to one source, is that if the president doesn't get what he wants for Christmas or soon thereafter, if this letter doesn't come, that he will have some kind of a meltdown. That is a direct quote from a source in the piece, a long time friend of the president says he thinks his attorneys have lulled him into a false sense of security and unrealistic expectations which could backfire spectacularly but now may make the president less agitated.

Take a look. This is what the president said yesterday about tens of thousands of Trump transition e-mails that Mueller's team obtained, the president's lawyer says, unlawfully, which Mueller's team denies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not looking good. It's not looking good. It's quite sad to see that. So, my people were very upset about it. I can't imagine there's anything on them, frankly, because as we said, there's no collusion. There's no collusion whatsoever. But a lot of lawyers thought that was pretty sad.

REPORTER: Are you considering firing Robert Mueller?

TRUMP: No, I'm not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: We'll have more on those e-mails later in the program. But as to the last part, not planning to fire Mueller, one source predicts if the president doesn't get this exoneration letter, again, a letter that seems to exist only in his own mind, that he will fire Mueller, which would leave him vulnerable to impeachment.

On Friday, the president said lawmakers need to get back to running the country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let's put it this way. There is absolutely no collusion. That has been proven.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Keeping them honest. That hasn't been proven. It might be eventually but it hasn't been proven yet.

The Mueller investigation is not over no matter how many times the president repeats himself. The fact is, it's not over and we know the president likes to repeat himself on this issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics.

Russia is a ruse.

There is no collusion. You know why? Because I don't speak to Russians.

This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.

The entire thing has been a witch hunt.

Look, there has been no obstruction. There has been no collusion.

All I can tell you is this: there was to collusion. There was no nothing.

(EDN VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Here is more of what the president said Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let's put it this way. There is absolutely no collusion. That has been proven. When you look at the committees, whether it's a Senate or the House, everybody -- my worst enemies, they walk out, they say, there is no collusion but we'll continue to look.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, on those congressional investigations, the new reporting from Sara Murray, Manu Raju and Jeremy Diamond is that several members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have made a conscious effort to avoid the president and the White House to guard against allegations of impropriety. Meanwhile, other lawmakers are avoiding discussing Russia with the president. Sources say in a call with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in August, the president railed about the ongoing investigations and the two have steered clear of the topics since then. Senator Lindsey Graham says he tries to avoid talking Russia on the

golf course with the president, because the president will just complain about it and say he didn't do anything wrong.

Now, this all tracks with what "The Washington Post" reported last week, that the president's daily briefing is structured in a way to avoid upsetting him because if anyone brings up Russia, it takes it off the rails.

So, there are people around the president telling him what he wants to hear. Others not bringing up the country that attacked American democracy because it will make him mad. And he has yet to even have one cabinet level meeting on Russian interference or what to do about it.

And now that the president is expecting a letter of exoneration from Mueller to come soon, it may have created an artificial calm with some of those around him concerned about an impending storm, much like a letter. We'll keep you posted.

Joining me now is Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator, thank you for being with us.

You were attorney general for the state of Connecticut for a long time. You know about investigations. The president says he now believes that the special counsel Robert Mueller is going to send him a letter exonerating him.

Is this how it works, generally?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Very rarely. I can say not only as state attorney general but also as a former United States attorney, chief federal prosecutor in Connecticut, that this kind of letter is sent exonerating, it's rare, virtually nonexistent in the case of the president. It may happen.

But this investigation is mounting in intensity and scope. It is not the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning. And there will be more indictments and more convictions, I think, as a near certainty before this investigation is over.

[20:10:05] It has penetrated the White House. It's nearing the Oval Office. And so, the creation of these false expectations is really a disservice to the president and the country.

BERMAN: Well, obviously, the White House lawyers, the president's lawyers on this issue say something different. They believe at this point that everyone inside the White House who was going to be interviewed has been interviewed. The president believes the investigation is wrapping up.

What signs do you see that they are wrong here?

BLUMENTHAL: The conviction of Michael Flynn and his cooperation is a shattering blow to the Trump presidency. But I also see the increasing chorus of seemingly orchestrated attacks on Robert Mueller, on the FBI, on the investigation itself from the president's allies in Congress, which is a sign of, frankly, fear or apprehension.

And also by the president himself, the calling of the investigation a hoax or a witch hunt and the attacks on the FBI saying its reputation is in tatters certainly is a sign that there are people with something to hide in the White House.

BERMAN: You say orchestrated attack. Do you believe that your colleagues in Congress, your Republican colleagues in Congress are coordinating these comments with the White House?

BLUMENTHAL: They are all of the appearances of coordinated attacks, whether it's by the White House or by other supporters of the president directly or indirectly. I see signs of a coordinated attack on this investigation, seeking to discredit and undermine it, to take, for example, the claim that these e-mails from the GSA were improperly obtained, absolutely a bogus claim. There's no executive privilege, no lawyer-client privilege.

The GSA was the account owner in official legal terms and yet, the president's allies are seeking to discredit and undermine the investigation.

BERMAN: Over the weekend, your Democratic colleague in the House, Congressman Adam Schiff, he said he's, quote, increasingly worried that Republicans will shut down the House Intelligence Committee at the end of the month. Do you share that concern on the committee that you sit on, the Senate Judiciary Committee? Do you think that there is a rush to finish business?

BLUMETHAL: I firmly believe that Chairman Grassley, who is a straight shooter, would have no tolerance to shut down this investigation prematurely. I'm hopeful that my other Republican colleagues share the passion and zeal that we have for uncovering the truth about any obstruction of justice, as well as collusion involving the Trump campaign and the Russians because we have oversight responsibility.

We have a very important obligation to make sure that legislation is passed if there was an obstruction to prevent it in the future, and there is increasing evidence that the Russians are continuing their attack on our democracy and they will go through the 2018 election repeating that kind of undermining of our democracy, if they are not made to pay a price.

BERMAN: The Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, told CNN today in response to a question on whether his committee interviewed a majority of the witnesses they will, he said, quote, I think it's safe to say we have two other campaigns we're just starting on. One of them we believe he's talking about is a Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Do you think there's anything to mind there? Do you think that will be fertile ground for investigation? BLUMENTHAL: The Russian attack on our elections in 2016 was endlessly

ingenious and inventive, using all kinds of social media, all kinds of intermediaries, sources of information for them. So, any possible attempt by the Russians, either to enhance the Stein campaign or use it in some other way so as to undermine our democracy I think is worthy of investigation.

BERMAN: You haven't seen any sign yet yourself that that has happened, have you?

BLUMENTHAL: I am reluctant to comment on documents and testimony that have been submitted confidentially to our committee.

BERMAN: All right.

BLUMENTHAL: But I think that Chairman Burr is well-founded in talking as circumspectly as he did.

BERMAN: Interesting.

Last question on Senator Al Franken. Today, Joe Manchin, your Democratic colleague from West Virginia, said he didn't believe that Al Franken should have resigned and he regretted the fact that he was essentially forced out by your Senate Democratic colleagues.

Do you still feel that Al Franken needs to resign and leave the Senate?

BLUMENTHAL: I think perhaps most importantly, we need to respect and believe the brave and strong women who are coming forward to raise these allegations about a variety of spheres in American life, including politics but also entertainment and business and sports.

[20:15:03] Al Franken made his decision and I supported it after he made it. I was not among the senators calling for him to resign and I think it's his decision.

BERMAN: Now that he made it, though, you still feel that he should commit to it, that changing his mind now, do you think that would be the wrong idea?

BLUMENTHAL: I think that's really a decision for Al Franken to make but he really has, I think, crossed the bridge at this point.

BERMAN: But if he changed his mind, you'd be OK with that?

BLUMENTHAL: It's his decision. I think he's made it and it's the right decision to have resigned. Very strongly, it is the right decision to have resigned.

BERMAN: OK. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, thanks so much for being with us.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Coming up, candidate Donald Trump often talked about Hillary Clinton's e-mails during the campaign. This time, it's tens and thousands of e-mails from his transition team that are now part of the Mueller investigation. And we'll have the latest on the deadly derailment in Washington state as well. What we know from the scene when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: As I mentioned at the top of the program, Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller and his team have obtained tens of thousands of e-mails from the Trump transition team and the president isn't happy about it. Now, lawyers representing the Trump transition accused Mueller's team of getting unauthorized access to the e-mails which a Mueller spokesman denies.

Joining me now is CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz.

Jeffrey, these emails, the Trump transition lawyers say that the special counsel's access was unauthorized.

[20:20:04] Mueller's team disagrees.

So, how do you see it?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I think Mueller's team is right. These were dot-gov e-mails. They were government emails. The government doesn't need a subpoena to obtain government e-mails.

The people who were on the transition team were warned explicitly that they had no expectation of privacy in these e-mails. There was just no reason, legal, credential or otherwise to do differently than what the Mueller team did.

BERMAN: Professor Dershowitz, you say, though, that Mueller's team acted carelessly. How so?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They did. They did. This is a cutting-edge issue that courts are confronting every day and coming out with different resolutions. Whether you can en masse get e-mails, even if it's in a transition team, which may include some privileged e-mails, some lawyer-client e-mails, there was no reason for a special prosecutor who may be going after the president not to wear a belt and suspenders and to go and get a warrant.

It's the easiest thing in the world to get. Judges give out warrants like Christmas candy. Why not protect yourself from what inevitably is going to be a defense attack? Why give ammunition to the other side if you can so easily avoid this question from even being a plausible one?

Look, in the end, Jeffrey may be right but why take a chance?

BERMAN: Jeffrey, why not?

TOOBIN: Because Alan is advocating the Sean Hannity standard, which is do something that Sean Hannity would find OK. That's a fool's game. The people are going to criticize Mueller no matter what he does.

I think there's a better standard, which is the law. The law is, you don't need a subpoena. You don't need a search warrant to get dot-gov e-mails. I'm unaware of any case where the government needs any special authorization to get government e-mails. I mean, maybe the law should be different. But I don't --

DERSHOWITZ: First of all --

BERMAN: I think there is any law that is different.

BERMAN: Professor?

DERSHOWITZ: First of all, it should be different, and civil libertarian shouldn't be moving to see an expansion of this dangerous development.

Second of all, I'm not aware of any case where the e-mails, massive numbers of e-mails from a transition team, which is quasi-public, quasi-private, sure, it's dot-government.

But why take a chance? It's not the Sean Hannity standard. It's the Justice Roberts standard. It's the Justice Alito standard. Make sure you're covered, make sure that there's no possibility when you're going after the potential of the president of the United States, you take no risks and no chances. You cover yourself in every possible way.

And that's not what Sean Hannity wants. He'd much prefer to see the special prosecutor be sloppy.

I want to see the special prosecutor be accurate to protect himself from any possible challenge, a challenge that I would make if it were one of my clients.

TOOBIN: Well, look, I think Alan is, as always, a principled civil libertarian who has very different -- very definite ideas about what the law should be. All I'm saying is that as far as I'm aware, the law is, currently, that Mueller had the right to do what he did and I don't see why he has to pretend that the law might be something different down the line when he is simply applying the law as it applies today.

BERMAN: Professor, why would there be any executive privilege here if, by definition, the president-elect is not yet the president, not yet the executive?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, isn't -- isn't that the irony? So, the argument on the other side is no executive privilege because he's a private citizen. On the other hand, he's a government official for purposes of getting, not getting a warrant.

You can't have it both ways. Clearly, anybody in the transition team is in a quasi-public, quasi-private position. There is no case law on this. The last thing you ever -- when you're a patient, you never want to

hear the doctor say, that's an interesting symptom. And when you're a special prosecutor, you never want to hear a lawyer like me say, that presents an interesting novel issue. You have to avoid novel issues like that.

BERMAN: But, Professor, the employees of the transition weren't quasi told that their e-mails are government property. They were directly told by the GSA special counsel, the deputy counsel that these e- mails, you know, lived on government servers and were subject to monitoring and there would be no expectation of privacy. Does that matter here?

DERSHOWITZ: No, because, you know, you're told that routinely. I'm told -- I guess I'm on the Harvard Law School server and somewhere in fine print there must be a statement that Harvard has a right to look into my e-mails. I don't expect Harvard is going to do that and I do have a reasonable expectation of privacy, if I'm writing to my lawyer, if I'm writing to the future president of the United States that there might be some privileges that will attach.

[20:25:01] It is not impossible that a judge may say that transition e-mails that haven't been vetted for any kind of privilege should have required a warrant, if that's even conceivable.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, does this end up anywhere legally or is it just a political argument? Does this just end up in the political sphere?

TOOBIN: I think what's most revealing here is that the transition lawyer wrote a letter and released it to the press and made a public stink. What he didn't do is go to court because he knew he would lose in court. I mean, this is --

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ: Too early. There's no standing. Too early to go to court.

TOOBIN: This is part of the offensive against Mueller's legitimacy.

DERSHOWITZ: I agree with that.

TOOBIN: It's taking very different forms. Some of it is narrowly legal, some of it is broadly political, some of it involves the personnel on Mueller's staff. But I don't think anyone should be confused that this is somehow a novel, legal issue.

It's black letter law, it's not controversial and it is just another way of mobilizing the Republican base to -- against Mueller and prepare the groundwork for the possibility that he -- that the president might arrange for his firing.

BERMAN: Professor Alan Dershowitz, Professor Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much for being with us, gentlemen.

DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: Up next, breaking news on the Republican tax plan. You're looking at live pictures from Capitol Hill where people are protesting this tax bill. Meanwhile, Republicans are getting much closer to the finish line. We'll get into that when we come back.

And later, a serious incident in the Palin family, a family feud that leads to an arrest, and a dispute over a truck. Sarah Palin's eldest son arrested on assault and other charges. What we know about what happened, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:31:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The protest on Capitol Hill tonight over the Republican tax bill. You're looking at pictures from the rotunda. We're just about a day or two away from a vote and it's looking more and more like Republicans in both chambers have the number to send the bill to President's desk. Republican Senators Susan Collins and Mike Lee, the two newest yes votes but its possible some late game problems could still crop up.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is live on Capitol Hill with the latest details. Phil, look these two new Republican yes votes, I'm not very good at math, but nevertheless this seems like a done deal.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look -- you sound like a math major base on that analysis there John. Now, look this more or less clinches right. The Republicans needed 50 votes, they needed a simple majority of how many Senators show up obviously, we know Senator John McCain is flew home to Arizona. He won't be there, at least them with 51. They a simple majority over the Republicans in the Congress to be able to get this across the finish line.

And the votes of Senator Mike Lee and Senator Susan Collins essentially get them to that point. There's one more vote outstanding, that's Senator Jeff Flake as of now, he said, he's still looking at the bill. Republican leaders expect him to come along. The things that he wanted in the bill, most notably with -- either -- with -- in relation to the expensing provision, how long that would go, how would phase out. Those are in the final deal.

So they expect him to come along, at this point John with the House vote on Tuesday and Senate vote as soon as Tuesday evening, Republican leaders right now were saying this is, quote, according to one aide, "drama-free". They feel like they're pretty much there.

BERMAN: And there is some controversy over Senator Bob Corker though and his vote, his yes vote. What are you learning about that?

MATTINGLY: Yes, look let's put in perspective. Senator Corker voted against this bill in the Senate because he had deficit concerns. There were no changes in the final conference report that addressed those deficit concerns. And still he was a yes. There are news reports out saying, part of the reason he may have been a yes is because of the changes to the so-called pass-through legislation. That's basically companies like LLC businesses, this partnerships that passed through their income on the individual side and pay it there Senate and House Republicans have made it clear they want a significant tax cut for those entities.

But they took very different approaches. Here's why Senator Corker's name started to come up. The Senate provisions did not include provisions that would help real estate firms, basically active capital investment, didn't benefit a lot from the Senate approach. The House approach did. Now, the Senate conference report took the baseline of the Senate provision but they added in the capital investment approach from the House side of things. So it made it look like anybody that's heavily involved in real estate or real estate LLCs, like Senator Corker or perhaps President Trump or perhaps Jared Kushner would benefit mightily from this tax cut there. But I can tell you, John, from talking to sources and aides throughout this process and Senator Corker, Senator Orrin Hatch is the finance chairman have all said, Senator Corker had nothing to do with this provision. He may benefit from it. But this wasn't what got him to yes.

Now what did, I'm told Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is working intensively with Senator Corker behind the scenes, lining up pressure from the outside to trying to get him on board. And also another note where to point here, Senator John McCain, his absence, his inability to be here for the vote, I'm told from several people that played a role in Senator Corker's final decision. It wasn't any specific provision, John.

BERMAN: All right, Phil Mattingly, up on Capitol Hill for us. Phil, thank you so much.

Joining me now to weigh in, CNN political director David Chalian. David, thank you for being with us.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Sure.

BERMAN: They say that the congressional Republicans and the president are really desperate for a legislative win. How big of an understatement would that be?

CHALIAN: A pretty big one. I mean look back, at the last year, if they were writing their list of all of their big accomplishments, there would be nothing on it, really. Maybe they'd put getting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. That was a pretty big accomplishment. But John, congressional Republican leaders have described this to their own members behind closed doors as an existential threat to their majorities, if indeed they didn't pass this tax reform.

What we saw in the polling throughout much of this year, John, Republican voters were so dissatisfied with their Republican leaders in Congress that they voted into power for not accomplishing the campaign promises. That their numbers were really beginning to take a hit. So they really do see this as an unbelievably important moment to take a big ticket item and go back to the voters and say, look what we did. [20:35:03] BERMAN: That's a big tax bill, also repeal of the individual mandate which are big items for some Republican candidates, to be sure. The President though also campaigned on helping working class voters. And the fact is, when you look at this bill that most of the benefits go to the corporations, first of all. And if you're looking at tax brackets, you know, the wealthiest get more benefits than others.

So is there a possibility that this is a tax bill for the working class, that that message somehow comes back to haunt him?

CHALIAN: Right. I mean, we see broadly that this tax bill is unpopular and that the overwhelming majority of the American people believe clearly the benefits do go to the wealthy, as you just stated. I have to say, John though, I don't know, maybe you've looked at presidents and through history as well. I can't recall a president who had a stronger relationship with his base than President Trump. It just has been a remarkable relationship between his base voters. So even though some of his base voters may be middle-class folks who aren't getting the full benefit that they may have been promised on the campaign trail, I don't see over that issue alone them peeling away from President Trump.

BERMAN: Yes, the issue is when it get beyond its base, when you get beyond that 35% or the 12% that ended up voted for him, what happens to them, particularly when you have an historically unpopular president, right he has an approval rating which is very, very low. And this tax bill polls even lower, right it's at 29% approval, the last polling we've seen.

CHALIAN: It does. And remember, you've mentioned there's also a health care piece to this tax bill and that clearly animated the opposition as well. Democrats were able to really form a lot of their political energy this year around the health care attempts to roll back Obamacare. Well now that a piece of that is in here, Democrats can use that in their messaging in addition to sort of the class warfare that they will employ that this benefits the wealthy.

Here's the thing. You are right, Donald Trump is having a problem with some of his coalition that put him into office, independents, suburban voters, these are people that we are not his core, most (INAUDIBLE) supporters that we see at rallies. But part of his electoral coalition has drifted away and this bill is not going to help that problem for him.

BERMAN: No, look and there are suburban voters in New York, New Jersey, you know, Connecticut, Maryland, California, people who did not put him in the White House, he think that those electoral votes, but he may have received their support. Many of them may see a tax increase in the next few years, that will be interesting to see how that plays out.

CHALIAN: That's why you see the Republican members in some of those districts like in New Jersey, again even though you get New Jersey electoral votes, those Republican congressional members are voting against the bill. BERMAN: David Chalian, thanks so much for being with us sir.

CHALIAN: Thanks John.

BERMAN: All right, up next more breaking news on the fatal train derail in Washington State, an inaugural trip on a brand-new train line ending in disaster as cars full of passengers plummet onto a highway below. We'll have the latest details.

Also ahead, Sarah Palin's oldest son arrested on assault and other charge in a dispute with his father over a truck.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:42:11] BERMAN: Breaking news tonight on the tragedy in Washington state. There are now three confirmed fatalities in the Amtrak derailment that left passenger cars dangling on to a highway this morning. More than 100 were taken to the hospital. CNN's Kyung Lah has more on how this horrific accident unfolded.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amtrak 501, emergency, emergency. Emergency. We are on the ground.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alarming words. The 911 call from the conductor of an Amtrak train cascade's 501 on its first ever run from Seattle to Portland on this route.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were coming around the corner to take the bridge over i-5 north of Nisqually and went on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Are you -- is everybody OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm still figuring that out. We've got cars everywhere and down on to the highway.

LAH (voice-over): Some of the train cars came smashing down on to five cars on the ground and two semi trucks. The train included 12 cars and two engines almost all derailed. Authorities said seven crew members and 77 passengers were on board. One of those riders estimated the Amtrak train was traveling between 70 and 80 miles per hour when he knew something went terribly wrong.

CHRIS KARNES, PASSENGER: We felt a little bit of a jolt and then at a certain point we -- we could hear crumpling of the train car and we were catapulted into the seats in front of us.

LAH (voice-over): Emergency responders transport the crash victims the hospitals all along interstate 5, including nearby Madigan Army Medical Center which took in at least 20 patients. The worst off and serious but stable condition. Police reported the rescue and recovery process got slowed down because some of the train was teetering from the bridge.

The mayor of Lakewood Washington, a city just north of the crash site, expressed grave concerns about the new train route prior to the accident. And the city of Lakewood actually sued the Washington Department of Transportation over the new rail route citing safety concerns.

DON LANDERSON, MAYOR, LAKEWOOD WASHINGTON: Don't come back when there is an accident and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements, or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it. Because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right, Kyung Lah is with me on the phone right now. Kyung, I understand you've been talking to the Madigan Army Medical Center where the majority of victims were sent after the crash. What are you learning?

LAH: Yes, most of them were sent here, John, because this hospital is just four to five miles away from the crash site. It is the closest one. So that's why so many immediately were taken here. But there were so many patients who were transported that they went all along the I-5 corridor. There are several hospitals that we've been checking in with.

But as far as Madigan, there are 19 that were transported, 12 remain, nine in serious but stable condition, three in fair and five of those 12 I just talked about, they've been admitted to the ICU because their injuries are so severe.

[20:45:06] And now those injuries are fractures and broken bones, say the hospital. It's consistent with -- if you imagine you're thrown at a high rate of speed, all of those people are suffering from fractures and broken bones. And one other thing, John, that we found quite interesting, this is a military hospital. The doctors, though they are civilians, there are military doctors here with a unique background. They are able to respond to those large traumas, some of them who have even been in combat situations.

So this hospital says that they are doing the best that they can, to make sure that these patients walk out, we should stress, John, that they do not believe at this point that the injuries here are life threatening. They do believe that everyone will pull through.

BERMAN: That's good news. All right, Kyung Lah for us in Washington. Kyung, thank you so much.

Joining me now Deborah Hersman, former NTSB chair and president of National Safety Council. Deborah, thanks for being with us. From an investigative standpoint, what do you make of what we know so far?

DEBORAH HERSMAN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL: Well, it's still really early and I think the most important thing to understand is what was going on at the time of derailment, where was the point of derailment, what speed was the train traveling and the NTSB should be able to find out the answers to most of those questions within the next 24 hours. BERMAN: When you look at the crash scene and we're seeing the pictures right here on the screen, right now the way the cars are all piled up and over, and there a lot are disconnected from each other, does that tell you anything about what errors might have occurred here?

HERSMAN: You know, it doesn't. It's very typical to see at a train derailment that the cars are piled up. Certainly when we see them, you know, with the speed that -- or with the energy that we can see here in this crash, it tells us they weren't going at a low speed. You always want the cars to remain upright. That's the best outcome for passengers. But in this case, falling from that bridge or going into the woods where they can hit other things, again, those are all not outcomes that you want to see, especially train cars flipped over.

BERMAN: There's been a lot of talk about PTC, Positive Train Control. Can you explain exactly what that is and how that might have been able to make a difference in this crash?

HERSMAN: So, Positive Train Control has been around for decades. This is not new technology. And in fact, in 2008, after 25 people were killed in a Metrolink crash in southern California, Congress required that all passenger lines and high HAZMAT lines install Positive Train Control by 2015. And so they gave the railroad seven years to do it. Congress pushed that deadline back when it became evident that many of the railroads weren't going to make it.

And so the concern from a safety perspective is not having Positive Train Control, which is a GPS-based system that backs up the engineer if they're fatigued, if they're distracted, if they're incapacitated and slows or stops the train before a collision or an overspeed derailment. That technology is a lifesaver and it should be on all of those routes now.

BERMAN: It wasn't used here. We don't know if it was there and not implemented but it wasn't used by this train on this day. Now, I do understand the track has undergone millions of dollars of improvements, but it was still a track previously used for occasional freight and military transport. Could that be problematic at all?

HERSMAN: So it's still too early to tell if Positive Train Control could have prevented this crash because you have to know what the cause of the derailment was. But certainly when you're looking at upgrading track, there's specific requirements that the federal railroad administration has for classes of track and if you're going to operate high speed, in this case, up to 79 miles per hour passenger service, the tracks have to be inspected and they have to be able to support that kind of speed of train.

You can also look at the curvature of the track and look at where they might have speed limits because you can't go 79 everywhere. They're going to have lower speeds in certain parts of the track. You've got to pay attention to that as well.

BERMAN: In terms of data, we have recorders and we might have a forward-facing camera here, Deborah, quickly? HERSMAN: Yes, very consistent in rail events. You get a recorder, there wasn't a post-crash fire. They should be able to download the data from that recorder. And forward-facing videos. So you can see any issues with respect to the track or environmental conditions.

BERMAN: All right, Deborah Hersman, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

HERSMAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Up next, whereas, the Palin family feud that led to an arrest, what happened when "360" continues.

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[20:53:37] BERMAN: A difficult weekend for Sarah Palin and her family. Her oldest son is facing serious charges after he allegedly assaulted his father. And it was Sarah Palin, the former vice presidential nominee who called police to their Alaska home. "360's" Randi Kaye joins me now with more. So Randi, what exactly happened here?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well John, here's what we know based on the police documents that we have obtained. Track Palin the oldest son of Sarah Palin and her husband Todd has now been charged with first degree burglary, a felony and also assault, which is a misdemeanor plus criminal mischief which is also a misdemeanor. Now from what we understand, this all stems from a domestic situation at their home inWasilla, Alaska that was over the weekend on Saturday.

According to the officer's affidavit, it was Sarah Palin herself who told police that their son Track was I'm quoting the officers affidavit here, "Freaking out and was on some type of medication." When police arrived, the officers said Todd Palin had a bloody face, get injuries to his head and when officers approach, they said that Track Palin started yelling at them from the porch, calling the officers peasants insisting that they later guns down on the ground, did apparently it get pretty crazy. At one point police documents show that Track Palin crawled onto the roof, out a window, and onto the roof of the garage.

BERMAN: So how did officers eventually arrest him?

KAYE: Well, after about 10 or 15 minutes they convinced him to come outside and talk to them that's where they handcuffed him, they detained him without incident. And police say that Track told them he had a few beers earlier, John.

[20:55:01] BERMAN: Do we know why this fight with the father, the fight between Track and Todd even occurred?

KAYE: Well according to the police, Track told them that he and his dad had some sort of disagreement about a vehicle. Track stated that he went to the window. At one point, he saw his Todd pointing a gun at him. Track told police that he told his father to shoot him actually several times. Inside Track somehow got the gun away from his dad, he told police that he put his dad on the ground and starting hitting him in the head.

Todd Palin know, has his own version of the story. He told police that his son wanted to come -- get a truck and Todd Palin told him not to because he thought his son had been drinking and maybe with some pain medication. And according to Todd Palin, his son told him he was coming anyway and going to, "Beat his ass". That's what police say Todd Palin got his pistol and at some point Todd Palin told police that he decided he was not going to shoot his son.

BERMAN: And Randi, Track Palin and the whole Palin family have had some trouble before, correct?

KAYE: Yes, they sure have. Back in 2016 Track Palin was arrested on domestic violence-related charges. At the time he was suspected of punching his girlfriend. He did take a plea deal that resulted in some of the charges being dismiss. But also, John you may remember back in 2014, the whole Palin family was involved in some sort of crazy drunken brawl that happened at a party on Todd Palin's 50th birthday. And police say they responded to a report of a verbal and physical altercation back then, and alcohol was believed to be involved. Track Palin was according to police heavily intoxicated and (INAUDIBLE), Bristol Palin, their daughter had apparently got into a fist fight with some guy with on the ground, no charges were filed and either side. But Sarah Palin, John did take to Facebook to defend her family at the time writing, "My kids defense of family makes my heart soar." John?

BERMAN: All right, Randi Kaye for us much more on this as it comes in. We appreciate it.

Coming up, a CNN exclusive. Sources say President Trump expects to be exonerated soon in the Russia investigation, but his allies fear he will have a meltdown. Their words if that doesn't happen. The latest from the White House next.

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