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Death Toll Rises, New Wildfires Break Out in California; Satellite Images Reveal Hidden North Korean Missile Bases; Interview with Rep Eric Swalwell (D) California. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 12, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Ballot brawl. Votes are being recounted right now in Florida where the races for senator and governor are still undecided, almost a week after election day. And as President Trump alleges fraud without any evidence, a judge is now warning all sides to tamp down the rhetoric.
[17:00:18] Spoiling to subpoena. Democrats poised to take power in the House of Representatives and ready to go after President Trump. I'll talk to a key Democrat on the Intelligence Committee this hour, Congressman Eric Swalwell.
Devastating infernos. Wildfires ravaging California, including what's now the most destructive on record. Thousands of homes already destroyed. Dozens dead and missing. We're live on the fire lines.
And missile deception. A very disturbing new report says North Korea is secretly operating a dangerous network of hidden missile bases, despite Kim Jong-un's promises to President Trump. Has the dictator duped the American commander-in-chief?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. A very closely-watched recount under way right now in two hotly-contested races in Florida. Election officials are racing to meet the state's Thursday deadline, while courts consider multiple lawsuits and President Trump claims voting fraud but offers absolutely no evidence.
I'll talk about that and much more with Congressman Eric Swalwell of the Intelligence Committee, and our correspondents, analysts and specialists are also standing by.
First, let's get the very latest on the breaking news.
CNN's Jessica Dean is in Florida for us tonight. Jessica, officials, they have until Thursday to complete this recount.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And good evening to you from Florida. We are here in Broward County once again, getting a lot of attention in the Florida recount, much like the year 2000. Inside the building behind me, they are working to get toward that
deadline, and all across Florida, supervisors of elections are trying to make sure they can meet that deadline on Thursday. This as lawsuits are being filed on both sides of the aisle.
DEAN (voice-over): Tonight, Florida is racing toward a recount deadline. The razor-thin margins in the governor's race and Senate race triggered an automatic machine recount Saturday. According to unofficial results filed by the counties, Republican Governor Rick Scott leads incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson by more than 12,500 votes. The two have gone right at each other.
RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE; Bill Nelson is clearly a sore loser. He can't stand the fact that he's not going to be elected for what, the first time in decades.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: One fact is that Rick Scott isn't interested in making sure every lawful vote is counted. And the second is that he's using his power as governor to try to undermine the voting process.
DEAN: The spread in the governor's race is larger, with former Republican Representative Ron DeSantis ahead of Democratic Tallahassee mayor, Andrew Gillum, by nearly 34,000 votes. Over the weekend, Gillum revoked his previous concession.
ANDREW GILLUM (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote.
DEAN: DeSantis is attempting to stay above the fray by keeping a low profile during the recount.
As the counting continues, the spotlight has focused on two counties in particular, Broward and Palm Beach. Republicans have zeroed in on the supervisors of elections in both counties.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire Brenda Snipes! Fire Brenda Snipes!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire Brenda Snipes! Fire Brenda Snipes!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire Brenda Snipes! Fire Brenda Snipes!
DEAN: With protesters calling for Broward County supervisor, Brenda Snipes', firing over her history of controversy and admitted mistakes in this count.
BRENDA SNIPES, BROWARD COUNTY SUPERVISOR: I've worked here for about 15 years, and I have to say, this is the first time that this office or I have been under such attacks. So if we make mistakes, we own mistakes.
DEAN: And then there's the flurry of lawsuits filed by both sides.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Count every vote!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Count every vote!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Count every vote!
DEAN: In Broward County court on Monday, a judge denied a motion by Governor Scott's team to impound voting machines and ballots.
Instead both sides agreed for three additional county deputies to help monitor in the recount. The judge also advised both sides to, quote, "ramp down the rhetoric," finding no evidence of fraud.
DEAN: We're also getting some interesting reporting from our affiliate, WJHG in Bay County, Florida. They're reporting that the secretary -- the supervisor of elections there allowed 147 voters to vote via e-mail, because they were displaced by Hurricane Michael. The secretary of state explicitly saying that's not allowed. So now we've got to discern kind of where those votes are in the whole process.
[17:05:07] And also as all of this continues and we look toward Thursday, this deadline, Rick Scott, Governor Rick Scott is planning to head to Washington, D.C., Wolf, to take part in activities for incoming senators.
BLITZER: We'll watch that, as well. All right, Jessica, thank you. Jessica Dean down in Broward County, Florida.
President Trump, meanwhile, is slamming the recount, even though it's required by state law. Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.
Jeff, the president has been taking to Twitter to weigh in.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he certainly has. And we did not see the president today at all. He did not have any official events here to mark the government's observation of the Veterans Day holiday here.
But we did hear from him, particularly on the Florida recount, sending out a variety of messages earlier in the day. And just a few moments ago, the president, under his signature, the RNC, sent out an e-mail fundraising solicitation saying, "Stolen," talking about the Florida recount.
Clearly, the White House not paying attention to what the judge said: to ramp down the rhetoric.
ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump out of sight at the White House on the federal holiday observing Veterans Day. But airing one grievance after another on Twitter. He's injecting himself squarely into the Florida recount, trying to
tip the scales to Republican candidates for Senate and governor, who were locked in razor-thin races.
"The Florida election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis. Large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged," he tweeted. "An honest vote count is no longer possible. Ballots massively infected. Must go with election night."
But there's no evidence to back up those claims. Florida law requires a recount in such close elections. And it's an odd message for veterans, considering votes from troops serving overseas have not yet all been counted. Their ballots are allowed to arrive after election day.
After a rocky weekend visit to Paris marking the centennial of the end of World War I --
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are gathered together at this hallowed resting place to pay tribute to the brave Americans who gave their last breath in that mighty struggle.
ZELENY: The president taking aim tonight at U.S. allies in a series of tweets. "Never easy bringing up the fact that the U.S. must be treated fairly, which it hasn't on both military and trade. It is and always has been ridiculously unfair to the United States. It is time that these very rich countries either pay the United States for its great military protection or protect themselves."
It was likely a response to French President Emmanuel Macron, who confronted Trump for calling himself a nationalist, not a globalist.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying, "Our interests first, who cares about the others," we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.
ZELENY: Trump's whirlwind visit to Paris doing less to bolster the transatlantic partnership than to expose its cracks. A far different reception than his visit for the 2017 Bastille Day parade, when he and Macron radiated in the glow of their newfound friendship.
On this trip, the fallout from Trump's "America first" world view on full display, with the president arriving alone Sunday at the Arc de Triomphe. He was widely criticized for missing a ceremony at an American military cemetery during a rain storm. The White House insisted the visit was scrapped for safety reasons, because the weather was too bad to fly.
The next day, the president hinted at his displeasure with the rain, while addressing a handful of living World War I veterans.
TRUMP: You look so comfortable up there under shelter as we're getting drenched. You're very smart people. ZELENY: Meanwhile, the president also slamming California officials
for the deadly wildfires devastating the state. Before ultimately mentioning the victims hours later, he first tweeted this threat: "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California, except that forest management is so poor. Remedy now or no more federal payments."
ZELENY: Now, Wolf, all of this is happening as the special counsel's Russia investigation appears to be entering a new phase. The White House paying very careful attention to that.
But House Democrats are, as well. As they prepare to take over their majority in January, they are already saying that Matt Whitaker, the new acting attorney general, will be one of the first witnesses to be called there, and the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, also saying that Democrats might attach a funding bill to ensure that he stays impartial in the Russia investigation.
So, Wolf, as we begin this week here after the election, the president himself personally focused on this investigation with that new acting attorney general in place. A lot could happen this week, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, I think you're absolutely right. Jeff Zeleny. Thank you.
Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He's a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Wolf.
[17:10:00] BLITZER: You saw this very strong article, the incoming chairman, we expect, Adam Schiff, of the Intelligence Committee, HE just wrote it, posted in "The Washington Post." "Matthew Whitaker, we're watching you." Very strong words.
You've got a strong tweet that you posted today, as well. Let me read it to our viewers: "The days of presidential immunity are OVER." Over, all caps. "Gone. No more free passes to cash in on the -- on access to Oval Office. No more colluding with Russia, and we'll see if you're a tax cheat. America is putting a balance of power on your abuses of power. Welcome to democracy."
So tell us exactly what you mean by that, including your reference to a balance of power.
SWALWELL: And first, Wolf, happy Veterans Day to our veterans out there.
That was a response to the president's tweet, blaming a dip in the stock market today on what he calls presidential harassment. And what he may be viewing as harassment is probably a response to the two years of immunity that he's been receiving and what he now sees is going to be oversight.
And while we're going to prioritize, you know, the economy and lifting up, you know, wages and protecting health care, we're also no longer going to let the president get away with, you know, easing sanctions on Chinese companies while he gets a $500 million loan from the Chinese and a Trump Tower project. We're not going to allow the president to just, you know, kill this Russia investigation by hiring an assassin like Matt Whitaker to come in and take it out --
BLITZER: When you say assassin, what do you mean?
SWALWELL: Yes, well, he -- Whitaker was hired because of his views on the investigation, those views. He's prejudged the investigation. Vox has reported that the president and Whitaker have been plotting, essentially, to have Whitaker come in and wind down the investigation.
If that had happened on Monday, you know, last Monday before the election, we would be powerless. But the voters want a check on these abuses of power. We're not powerless any more.
BLITZER: So how are you going to divide up between what your Judiciary Committee is going to do in going after the president and the Intelligence Committee?
SWALWELL: Well, we're not going to chase every ball that the president throws. We're going to prioritize what matters to our democracy and people in their everyday lives. And so first we want to make sure that no one is above the law. And so seek to protect Bob Mueller, by insisting that we have protect Mueller legislation.
BLITZER: But you need Republicans, too.
SWALWELL: Well, the Republicans have not been able to get a budget passed in the last two years with their own votes, despite controlling the House and the Senate. So if they want Democratic votes, we're saying they're going to need to ensure that the Mueller investigation --
BLITZER: So is that an absolute? You're not going to vote for must- pass legislation to keep the government open unless you have that kind of inclusion?
SWALWELL: Again, they control government. So if they can sort it amongst themselves, they can pass it. But if they want Democrats at the table to work with them, we think that the rule of law is paramount in our country and we're going to insist on that.
BLITZER: It's interesting. We spotted mike Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer and fixer -- he spent a decade working closely with Donald Trump. He's been in Washington today; he's just left. We've got some video of him arriving at Union Station here in Washington. Here he's departing in late afternoon.
We don't know what he was doing here. But his criminal defense attorney was with him, and we know that it follows that big explosive story in the "Wall Street Journal" the other day about the president's -- President Trump's involvement in hush-money payments to two women. What's your understanding?
SWALWELL: I hope he's coming clean. There's reporting that he's been talking to the special counsel. The special counsel has had a number of witnesses before the grand jury. It looks like they're moving toward, you know, more progress in indictments.
But Mr. Cohen knows more beyond just campaign finance violations. I was a part of the interview of Mr. Cohen. He was negotiating with the Trump Tower property to go into Moscow during the primary when Russian-Americans who were connected to Vladimir Putin were offering to connect Putin and Trump. And they even said, "If we do this right, we can engineer this and elect our boy as president."
So there's a lot of concerns about, you know, what Donald Trump knew about those offers while the Russians were interfering.
BLITZER: And I just want to be precise. We spotted Michael Cohen here in Washington today for several hours with his criminal defense attorney.
We also noticed that there were eight of Robert Mueller's attorneys working on this federal holiday, Veterans Day, today. We don't know what Michael Cohen was doing. We can surmise; we can guess.
SWALWELL: Could have been at the mall. Just picking up --
BLITZER: I suspect -- I don't suspect he was at the mall. If he would have been, maybe would have come with his family, as opposed to his lawyer. But do you believe that the hush-money payments are potentially impeachable offenses?
SWALWELL: I think what they show, Wolf, are that these guys are shadowy operators, and it gives us reason to look at what they were doing with respect to the Russians, what they were doing with respect to the Saudi Arabians and deals that we suspect were being conducted at the time.
You know, I think we have to be careful that we don't, you know, go too far on what is an impeachable offense. And that whatever we investigate, you know, that we have impenetrable evidence and we seek to have bipartisan support. Because we don't want to be as reckless with the truth as the president is.
BLITZER: You expect indictments this week?
SWALWELL: I think, because of the number of people Bob Mueller has interviewed and that he took a pause for the midterm elections and now we're a week after the midterms, it wouldn't surprise me one bit.
[17:15:04] BLITZER: And you say you want bipartisan support. Bipartisan support to protect Robert Mueller right now. Do you see that happening?
SWALWELL: I've seen it already in the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to protect Bob Mueller. Mitch McConnell absolutely refuses to bring it to a vote. I hope, if we can pass that in the House, it will build momentum over there in the Senate.
BLITZER: As you know, top Democrats are asking that the acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, go to the ethics panel at the Justice Department and recuse himself because of all of the public statements he's made and what he's done in recent years as a private citizen.
If he doesn't respect the advice of the ethics -- of the ethics officer over at the Justice Department, what can you do about that, if anything? If he doesn't recuse himself?
SWALWELL: We bring him before Congress and find out what promises he's made with the president.
But also, Wolf, as a former prosecutor, that's just what good, honest prosecutors do. They don't put their own personal interests above a case. And if he wants to uphold the integrity of the Department of Justice, he will do that on his own without being forced to do so by Congress.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the devastating fires, the horrible fires out in your home state of California right now. One of those fires, I understand, not too far from your own district out in California.
This is what the president tweeted on Saturday. Listen to this: "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California, except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forest. Remedy now or no more fed payments."
SWALWELL: Well, again, I'm sorry that so many families are going through this in California. They don't deserve to be insulted by the president.
My mom always said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. The president should just remain quiet.
But, Wolf, a majority of the forests in California are under the president's management. He's been on the job for two years. If he's blaming forest management, he owns a lot of the problem.
BLITZER: Does it look, based on what you're hearing from your own district --
SWALWELL: Twenty-five percent contained in the Camp Fire. My district is fine, but we have many of the same conditions in my district. So but for the grace of God it could happen in many places in California.
But right now people are coming together. They're going to fire stations. They're donating food and products that the fire department needs. That's what American spirit is. Not what we're seeing from the president. BLITZER: Very quickly. I know you were in Iowa this weekend. You're
running for president?
SWALWELL: Very well-received there. They want new energy, new ideas and a new confidence. And that really, I think, emboldened me to make a decision soon.
BLITZER: You'll make a decision soon. All right. We'll watch it very closely, Congressman. Thanks for coming in.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
BLITZER: Up next, we'll have more on Michael Cohen's surprise appearance right here in the nation's capital with his defense attorney.
Plus, members of the Mueller team working on this Veterans Day holiday. What might all of this mean for the Russia investigation?
[17:22:00] BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the Russia meddling investigation. A one-time associate of the Trump ally, Roger Stone, says he's now expecting to be indicted.
Let's bring in our senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez. Evan, tell us more about this.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're talking about Jerome Corsi. He's one of several of Roger Stone's associates, who has now gone in and provided testimony to Robert Mueller's investigators. He's even appeared before the grand jury.
And just this afternoon on his live stream, -- he has a live stream program on YouTube -- he said the following. He said, "And now I fully days I will be indicted by Mueller for some form or other of giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand jury or however they want to do the indictment. But I am going to be criminally charged."
Now, we don't know exactly when this is going to happen. But all indications is that from his meetings and his lawyers' meetings with the special counsel, Wolf, that Jerome Corsi believes, or he's been informed that he is going to be indicted, at least, it looks here, according to him, for perjury, for the information he has provided to the special counsel.
BLITZER: Is it normally the procedure of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to indict only one person, or could he be part of a group of individuals that are expected to be indicted?
PEREZ: Right. Well, they've done -- they've done single indictments. But certainly, we know that there's been a lot of focus on Roger Stone, and on some of the other people around him.
So -- and we've been told, Wolf, that we should expect additional indictments before this special counsel has done his work. So, again, we're expecting right now, according to Jerome Corsi, he appears to have been informed to expect that he's going to be charged. There could be others, also.
BLITZER: And the suggestion -- the allegation is that for some unknown reason, he was involved in the WikiLeaks leak, presumably maybe to Roger Stone, and then it went public; and then a few weeks later WikiLeaks went out with the John Podesta information.
PEREZ: Right. Well, my colleague, Sara Murray, has reported extensively on this. And one of the things she got in one of her stories recently, at least some of the -- based on some of the questions that the Mueller team was asking, they at least were exploring or investigating whether Jerome Corsi was one of these back channels that Roger Stone was using to get information from Julian Assange from the WikiLeaks folks before this information was published.
Now, this is a big deal. Simply because if they had some information ahead of time that this information was coming, and if they passed this on to people inside the Trump campaign, then that is where it brings you to collusion, right, which is the big question that has been hanging over this investigation.
[17:25:08] Again, we do not know whether they got there or not. But certainly, from the questions that the Mueller team has been asking of Jerome Corsi and from other people, they believe that there was an additional back channel other than Randy Credico, who is the New York radio host, who has already said that he was one of those people. They believe that there was another one, and if they're right, then this perhaps, you know, brings forward a lot of answers to the questions that we've been having.
BLITZER: What's intriguing is that Roger Stone, the close ally of Donald Trump over many years, he apparently has not yet been questioned by Robert Mueller and team. Although eight or ten of his associates, they have been questioned.
PEREZ: Right. And, Wolf, as you know, that's bad news. By now, Roger Stone should have been contacted for information if he wasn't the focus of this investigation.
And, look, Roger Stone openly says that he expects that he is going to be charged. He's been fund-raising. He's been doing a lot of public appearances on this -- on this issue. So he expects that he could face some charges as a result of this.
BLITZER: Let me play the clip. This is Jerome Corsi speaking on his YouTube channel earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME CORSI, ASSOCIATE OF ROGER STONE: I got served a subpoena on August 28, my home, two FBI agents show up unannounced. And I did not talk to the FBI. Of course, my wife is pretty startled. And we began a series of discussions with them that have gone on for two months.
And at the end of that two months, even though I did everything I could to cooperate, the entire negotiations, discussions, have just blown up. And now I fully anticipate in the next few days I will be indicted by Mueller for some form or other of giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand jury or however they want to do the indictment. But I'm going to be criminally charged.
Now, the subpoena came to my home three days before my 72nd birthday. And this has been one of the most frightening experiences of my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You know, the question -- I guess the key question is, how problematic, Evan, potentially, could this be for the Trump administration, the allegation of collusion or conspiracy or cooperation, whatever you want to call it?
PEREZ: Right. That's one of the things that this comes back to, Wolf. If there is any way to prove that either Jerome Corsi or Roger Stone were providing some of this information, if they had any, to the Trump campaign, and it is a hugely problematic thing.
Now Sara Murray, again, my colleague who has been reporting on this, she just got some new information that says that there are a number of charges that they're expecting from perjury to making false statements to obstruction of justice. So it appears that Jerome Corsi is facing a lot of problems here.
Again, this is all having to do with comments he made or his statements that he made to the special counsel and/or to the grand jury with regard to his relationship with WikiLeaks and Roger Stone. All of this is squarely in the focus of what this investigation is all about.
Again, the big question of collusion, and whether or not anybody associated with the campaign was passing along information from WikiLeaks to the campaign, to expect some of this damaging information against Hillary Clinton. Again, this is squarely front and center of what this investigation has all been about, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. And I suspect now that the midterm elections are over, there's going to be an accelerated pace. Mueller clearly wants to wrap things up. And I think we're going to see indictments and a final report.
PEREZ: We saw them today at the office, by the way. This is a holiday, usually they don't work on federal holidays. They were working today.
BLITZER: At least eight of his lawyers were working today. And coincidentally or not, Michael Cohen and his criminal defense attorney, they were in Washington today following that bombshell report from the "Wall Street Journal" last week, detailing allegations that Donald Trump personally was intimately involved in every step of the way to the hush-money payments to those women. We'll see what happens on that front, as well.
Evan, good reporting. Thank Sara, as well.
Much more on the breaking news right after this.
[17:34:10] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This hour's breaking news. Jerome Corsi, an associate of Trump ally Roger Stone, just said he's expected to be indicted by the special counsel, Robert Mueller's, team this week.
Let's get some insight from our political and legal analysts. And Gloria, potentially this could be very significant.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it is very significant. Because as Evan was saying before, this goes to the question of collusion. And, you know, we've heard the president for months saying, "Nobody in my campaign conspired to defraud the government or conspired to fix the election."
And, you know, the whole question about Roger Stone and his associates is whether, in fact, they were in touch with WikiLeaks, and whether, in fact, WikiLeaks was coordinating in any way with anybody affiliated with the Trump campaign.
So I think this is sort of the beginning of starting to kind of peel the onion on that -- on that story. And we'll have to see where it goes. But clearly, if he expects to be indicted, somebody has told him.
[17:35:05] BLITZER: Yes. It looks like things are moving quickly now that the midterms are over.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think for anybody that's been following this story, no doubt there was a pause in that DOJ rule, guideline that exists that Mueller seemed to follow. Pausing there from public activity. But the private work never stops throughout that entire time that they were doing in their offices.
But I think for anyone that has tracking this story for nearly two years now, Wolf, as Gloria was just laying out, you can start to see some of the dots that perhaps can be connected. Now, we'll await a report to see if they're connected. But there aren't that many dots here, right? I mean, if you can -- if Roger Stone was, indeed, in touch with WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks was, indeed, coordinating information releasing with the Russians, that's not like some crazy chart you have to follow. That is a pretty connected line there of dots.
BLITZER: You know, Joey Jackson, you're our legal expert. Very often these prosecutors, they indict mid-level or even senior people, hoping that they will eventually cooperate and go after even bigger fish.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. There's no question about that. And let's keep something in mind, as well, right? Of course there has been this pause by the special counsel as it
relates to the election and not wanting to interfere with it. That does not mean in any stretch of the imagination that they have not been working diligently, regularly, in order to, A, bring this to a conclusion; but, B, gather and get information on what's important, what's not.
As it relates to Corsi, we don't know if he will be indicted. He believes he will be. I believe a number of indictments will come down, and they are pending. I really believe that.
But at the end of the day, I think it will depend upon what he had to say. Why would the special counsel be indicting him? Would it be because he gave information that was not proper, that was, in fact, misleading? You know, what does he know, when did he know it, what information did he provide about Roger Stone who they have been looking at very closely? And so I think it's going to be telling in the days to come. I think we'll know specifically who's being indicted.
And I also think, Wolf, I'm sure we'll talk about this moving forward. But the fact that Michael Cohen was there today wasn't any coincidence either, particularly with courts being closed.
BLITZER: Especially with his own -- coming to Washington, not with his family and some friends, but with his criminal defense attorney, taking the Acela from New York to Washington and then heading back.
Let's talk a little bit about how unusual it would be for someone to say, "I expect to be indicted this week" and not be indicted.
JACKSON: You know, it would not be unusual in that we don't know, in fact, what the special counsel is doing. But I would assume that, you know, particularly if you're connected with lawyers and other people, if you were involved in the investigation and subpoenaed to appear, that he has some insights into what's going on there.
And in the event that he gave information -- remember, when you go in, Wolf, and you testify before any grand jury, the prosecutors know a whole lot. They've spoken with a number of people. And so you cannot presume that you're on an island by yourself giving information. And if that information is in any way, shape or form separate and apart from what they have been told and otherwise been instructed, I think you have a problem as it relates to giving false testimony, as it relates to obstructing justice and as it relates anything that yourself, independently, you may have committed crimes.
BLITZER: I expect things to start moving very quickly now, Chris.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS WRITER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes. I mean, gosh, if you believe some of Donald Trump's lawyers, it was all going to be wrapped up in the summer. So, you know, I think Joey touches on the truth is, we don't totally know.
But, yes, I mean, it certainly feels as though we're getting toward the end here. Now, does that mean the end of this month, the end of December, sometime in January?
The good thing, if you look at a time limit, is now we are beyond, mostly an election, and now he can sort of move publicly.
The thing I would remind people about Jerome Corsi. This is -- we were talking about this on the program -- this is the guy who wrote a book about the swift boat veterans and John Kerry. This is the guy who wrote about the deep state as it related to Barack Obama. This is a guy who's affiliated with Info Wars. I mean, this is not someone who is hugely familiar with the truth as is sort of broadly established.
And you know, his YouTube video, which we were watching, here's the thing. The reason you would be indicted, according to Corsi, is because he didn't tell the truth in front of a grand jury. So there's only, like, so much sympathy I could have there. If you told the truth as it -- and it was corroborated, he wouldn't be in the situation he's currently in. At least he says he's currently in.
BLITZER: It looks, Sabrina, like they're trying to circle around Roger Stone right now, as well, given all of his associates who have already been questioned. He has not.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE GUARDIAN": Right. There are more than a dozen associates of Roger Stone who have been contacted at this point by the special counsel, either to sit down for an interview or appear before a grand jury.
And one of the pieces of information that we heard in recent days about Jerome Corsi is you have some sources close to Mueller saying that they may have evidence that he, in fact, did brag about or take credit for being behind the release of the e-mails that were hacked from Hillary Clinton's campaign.
[17:40:05] So now the key question is, what, if anything, did Roger Stone know? We obviously are well aware of his contacts with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. And was Roger Stone, in fact, acting as some sort of conduit between the Trump campaign and Moscow? Because that really cuts at the heart of this. And that would have, of course, been then, evidence of some sort of collusion.
And particularly what did Roger Stone, a long-time political adviser to the president, tell then-candidate Trump about his contacts with the Russians?
BLITZER: And Gloria, Michael Cohen, the president's long-time fixer, and lawyer --
BORGER: Former fixer.
BLITZER: For a decade he worked very closely with him. We see some video with his criminal defense attorney. There he is, they're leaving Union Station, heading on the Acela back to New York after spending several hours here in Washington. I'm sure they weren't sight-seeing. I'm sure they were doing something. And we also know, despite the fact it's Veterans Day, a federal
holiday, about eight of Mueller's lawyers were over at the Justice Department, working today.
BORGER: Yes, they're working. And look, we know -- that's Michael Cohen and his lawyers, Guy Petrillo, there.
And we know that Michael Cohen has been talking for over 30 hours, maybe today make it 38 hours. And he's been talking to the Southern District of New York; he's been talking to Mueller. And so we have to presume this is more of this.
We know that Michael Cohen's sentencing is scheduled for December 12. I've been told that he really wants to stick to that date. There are lots of people who say, you know, push it off. You can push these things back.
I think -- I think Cohen, from my reporting, is so nervous, upset, distraught, that whatever is going to happen to him -- I think he wants it to happen and get it over with. And if he has to serve, do what he's got to do and then get on with his life.
And so you see him doing all of this, pushing all of this. And I think today was sort of a part of that telling of the story. I don't pretend to know what went on in that room. But I do think that we all know that Michael Cohen has been very, very cooperative.
CILLIZZA: The timing of it -- to Gloria's point, we don't know. The timing is interesting as it relates to the "Wall Street Journal" reporting late last week that, basically, the details of what Michael Cohen said he told investigators are corroborated regarding hush payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
Again, to me, I know that's not collusion with the Russians or -- but it seems to me quite clear that the president of the United States, based on all available evidence, was involved in coordinating these things he said he knew, on the record, as president of the United States, under direct questioning, said he knew nothing about, which is a big deal.
CHALIAN: And if it's not clear now, House Democrats are going to do their best to make it even clearer when they're in the majority next year.
BLITZER: After January 3 when they're in the majority. Everybody stand by.
BORGER: Or before.
BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following. A live update on the dead deadly wildfires burning in Northern and Southern California.
[17:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, new wildfires are breaking out across California where at least 31 people are confirmed dead and millions more are at risk. Among the fires is one that now ranks as the most destructive in state history.
CNN's Nick Valencia is in what used to be the town of Paradise in northern California. What are you seeing over there, Nick?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here in northern California, more than 10,000 acres have burned in the last two days. Here in Paradise, it is so bad, in fact, the mayor tells me that it will take weeks before residents are allowed back in.
AMBER TONEY, PARADISE, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: It's OK, momma. It's OK. Please, please drive. Just please drive.
SUSAN MILLER, PARADISE, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: I am.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Tonight, the most destructive fire in California raging on.
MILLER: Oh, god!
VALENCIA (voice-over): Most people in Paradise already in trouble before they realized what was happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baby, it'll be all right.
VALENCIA (voice-over): This father finding the resolve to calmly sing to his daughter while the walls of flames close in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to get hot when we get fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to catch on fire, OK? We're going to stay away from it.
VALENCIA (voice-over): At its peak, the Camp fire burned a football field every three seconds. Even with emergency alerts sent to registered resident cell phones and landlines, Paradise had only a short time to evacuate from the inferno.
MAYOR JODY JONES, PARADISE, CALIFORNIA: We did have an evacuation plan in place. We did implement it. It worked the way it was supposed to work. We just never anticipated having to evacuate all zones all at the same time.
VALENCIA (voice-over): And it's likely many could not get out in time.
SHERIFF KORY HONEA, BUTTE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Currently, there are 228 individuals who have been determined to be unaccounted for. VALENCIA (voice-over): California is dealing with multiple fires at
once. About 500 miles to the south, firefighters work to contain a blaze on the bluffs of multimillion-dollar communities, including the homes of celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Neil Young, and Gerard Butler.
GERARD BUTLER, ACTOR: Welcome to my home in Malibu, half gone.
VALENCIA (voice-over): The Woolsey fire has already destroyed nearly 200 homes. The flames threatening to destroy another 50, 000.
GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: This is not the new normal. This is the new abnormal.
VALENCIA (voice-over): California's Governor Jerry Brown blaming climate change.
BROWN: The chickens are coming home to roost. This is real here.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Together, the fires have claimed the lives of more than 30 people.
[17:50:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god.
VALENCIA: And while the Sheriff says that hundreds are still unaccounted for, he did stress that it will take time to comb through these remains and identify those who may not have made it out alive -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Horrible story indeed. All right, Nick, thank you very much. Nick Valencia on the scene for us.
Also tonight, despite President Trump's repeated assurances that all is well between the United States and North Korea, there's alarming new evidence Kim Jong-un is moving ahead with his ballistic missile program.
CNN's Brian Todd has been working his sources. Brian, what are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have word tonight of a secret network of missile bases operated by the North Koreans.
Now, the North Koreans do not test missiles at these bases, but we are told they do have one base that is especially dangerous, including this one that we're mentioning that can deploy missiles very quickly toward innocent South Korean civilians and toward U.S. troops in South Korea.
TODD (voice-over): New information tonight that Kim Jong-un is secretly operating a very dangerous web of hidden missile bases, even while he's been corresponding with President Trump, leading the President to declare the U.S. safe from North Korea's missiles. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The missiles have
stopped. The rockets have stopped.
TODD (voice-over): North Korea has stopped testing missiles since Trump and Kim began their dialogue.
But tonight, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, has a new report saying Kim's regime is moving ahead with its missile program, operating more than a dozen secret missile sites that the regime has never acknowledged.
THOMAS KARAKO, DIRECTOR OF THE MISSILE DEFENSE PROGRAM, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: They have continued their missile activity on the ground in all kinds of operational ways through and after the Singapore summit and the hopes for all that.
TODD (voice-over): CSIS, in its North Korea analysis branch, Beyond Parallel, have published satellite photos of a missile-operating base called Sakkanmol tucked in a narrow valley. The photos show entrances to an underground network of tunnels.
What are the tunnels used for?
KARAKO: Those tunnels could be used for masking, for camouflaging, and protecting trucks that carry missiles -- mobile missiles -- that could then be rolled out of the entrances, taken to some location, fired off, and all of that happen in a very short period of time.
TODD (voice-over): The new information even more ominous for what it reveals about North Korea's threat to millions of civilians in Seoul and the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.
According to CSIS, the hidden Sakkanmol base is only about 50 miles north of the DMZ and just a little over 80 miles from Seoul and the areas where American troops are stationed.
KARAKO: This particular base could hold short-range ballistic missiles that can hit a lot of U.S. bases and South Korean bases and, of course, Seoul and other things.
TODD (voice-over): A key question tonight, could U.S. forces take out these bases if the North Koreans rolled missiles out and were ready to fire them?
KARAKO: There's no question we can get lots of effect on a particular point, but the challenge is that they can roll these trucks out, fire them off, and maybe even roll them back in before our strike assets could get there.
TODD (voice-over): President Trump is credited with at least temporarily ratcheting down the overall threat from Kim, but Trump's critics say the young North Korean strongman has been playing the President the entire time.
JAMIE METZL, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: The North Koreans absolutely hoodwinked President Trump. It was clear from the beginning that the North Koreans were not agreeing to give up their nuclear and missile programs.
They were certainly happy to pause those programs, especially because they had reached a critical level of development where they could fire missiles and they had a credible nuclear threat.
TODD: Pressed by CNN for a response to the new CSIS report, the Trump administration is maintaining its optimistic tone.
A State Department spokesperson telling us that President Trump has made it clear that if Kim Jong-un sticks to his commitments -- denuclearization and eliminating its ballistic missile program -- that, quote, a much brighter future lies ahead for North Korea and its people.
The CIA declined to comment on this new report, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, these secret bases, are they capable of deploying only short-range missiles?
TODD: Apparently not, Wolf. The CSIS report says there are secret bases underground further north inside North Korea which can deploy those long-range missiles capable of hitting the continental United States. That's what makes this secret network of tunnels and bases so very dangerous.
BLITZER: Very sensitive information indeed. All right, Brian, we'll stay on top of it together with you. Thank you.
Coming up, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors working on this federal holiday as former Trump fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, shows up in town with his attorney. Is the Russia investigation reaching a critical juncture?
[17:54:43] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Mueller's moves. An associate of Trump ally Roger Stone says he expects to be indicted by the Special Counsel.
This as Robert Mueller's team is working through the holiday and the President's convicted former fixer makes a surprise trip to Washington. Is the next shoe in the Russia probe about to drop?
Election fight. Ballots are being recounted around the clock in Florida right now with a deadline looming and high-stakes contests still very much up in the air. Tonight, the President is suggesting that every vote should not count.
[17:59:57] Home tweet home. Back from his trip to France, President Trump holes up at the White House, tweeting attacks and grievances but deciding not to take part in any Veterans Day events here in the United States.