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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin Discusses on Working Together on Cybersecurity Unit; Mosul, Iraq Now Liberated From ISIS; Thousands Evacuate As California Wildfires Spread; Turmoil Triggers Exodus Of Desperate Venezuelans. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 9, 2017 - 14:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. On the heels of the G20 summit, Americans still don't know who their president trusts; U.S. intel officials who say Russia absolutely interfered with U.S. elections or Russian President Vladimir Putin who says Russia he told Trump face to face, he did not.


WHITFIELD: Well, this morning in a tweet, President Trump commented for the first time about his meeting with Putin in Germany. While Trump did not refute Putin's repeated denials of involvement, Trump instead tweeted, "It is time to move forward." Some in the Republican party are outraged.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAPOLINA: To forgive and forget when it comes to Putin regarding cyberattacks is to empower Putin and that's exactly what he's doing.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There has been no penalty whatsoever. Time to move forward. Yes, it's time to move forward but there has to be a price to pay.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Why does there have to be a price?

MCCAIN: Otherwise, he will be encouraged to do so again, obviously.


WHITFIELD: Meanwhile, the White House is applauding the overall outcome of the meeting with Putin.


STEVE MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: There was significant substance. This is a very important, important for us to have discussions on substantive issues. And I think the president handled it brilliantly.

WHITFIELD: Adding to the confusion and bewilderment on both sides of the aisle, Trump's proposal to actually work with Russia on forming a cybersecurity unit.

ASH CARTER, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary.


WHITFIELD: Let's talk more about this and what the president has been saying on the heels of his meeting with President Putin. I want to bring in CNN's White House correspondent Athena Jones, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. This is very interesting because we know that President Trump did not have a press conference before leaving the G20 and so, there wasn't an opportunity for reporters to ask him about the discrepancy between the readouts from the Russian side and the U.S. side after that two-hour-plus sit down he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But he has taken to Twitter to address some of these questions. You put these up on the screen, let's put them up again. He said this morning --

TEXT: I strongly pressed President Putin twice about the Russian meddling in our election; he vehemently denied it. I've already given my opinion.

JONES: He also tweeted --

TEXT: Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cybersecurity unit so that election hacking and many other negative things will be guarded.

JONES: Both of those are stunning statements for different reasons. The first, the president confirms, he, what all sides agree with, which is that he did confront President Putin about Russian meddling and then he said, I've already given my opinion.

Well, Fred, a lot of folks have yet to hear and want to hear a much more definitive statement from the president that he believes that Russia was solely at fault when it come to meddling in the U.S. election last year. That is the conclusion the U.S. intelligence agencies have come to. But we haven't heard that from the president in a definitive way.

And then he talks about having the cybersecurity unit. Well, if the president believes that Russia was involved in meddling even if he believes others were also involved, then why would it make sense to work with the Russians on cyber security? It just boggles the mind. Fred.

WHITFIELD: And Athena, what other reaction is coming from inside Washington?

JONES: Well, you saw some of the reaction from the president's Republican colleagues. Democrats also responding. Adam Schiff, who was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is one of the committees investigating the whole matter of Russian meddling had this to say, watch.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: How can we really believe that the president pressed Putin hard when only the day before, he was denying whether we really knew Russia was responsible. What kind of a tough negotiator, and this is the way the president likes to portray himself, goes into a negotiation betraying his own position the day before, calling into question the probity of his own intelligence agencies.

That just doesn't make any sense. And then to say, OK, it's been resolved, now we can move on. I don't think we can move on. I don't think we can expect the Russians to be any kind of a credible partner in some cybersecurity unit. I think that would be dangerously naive for this country. If that's our best election defense, we might as well just mail our ballot boxes to Moscow. I don't think that's an answer at all.

JONES: And we know that Adam Schiff is not alone. Marco Rubio, another Republican, has also criticized the president. Marco Rubio, of course, has long been arguing that this is an issue, this Russian meddling issue, is one that should not be a political one.

The next time it could be the Republicans who are in the crosshairs. Marco Rubio took to Twitter saying partnering with Putin on cybersecurity unit is akin to partnering with Syria's Bashar al-Assad on a chemical weapons unit, Fredricka.

[14:05:07] WHITFIELD: All right. Athena Jones, some pretty strong reaction there.

All right. Well, this morning on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION", Dana Bash spoke to the former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, about President Trump's cyber security discussions with Putin, here's more of that interview.


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: You have known Vladimir Putin since he was a low-level aide.

CARTER: Yes, I did.

BASH: Do you think he can be a legitimate partner on cyber security?

CARTER: The Russians pulled out the old playbook. I've seen all this going back to Russian and Soviet days. When confronted with something they've done wrong, ask for U.S. intelligence old trick. Propose a working group, in this case, on cyber. But this is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary, it's they who did this.

BASH: So was it a mistake for the Trump administration to buy it?

CARTER: Well, I don't think they can buy or we should -- it's fine to talk to the Russians about lots of things. It's never a problem talking to people. It's a matter of what you say. But in this case, this isn't just a matter of looking backward; this is a matter of looking forward.

We're going to have elections in a year and a half. There are state elections, municipal elections as well as national elections, there are elections in other countries. It's important that there'd be consequences for the Russians in regard to this. And to me, getting to your question about Putin, a pattern with Putin.

In defense, this is why we thought it was so important to stand strong against Russia in Europe, put new U.S. formations in Europe. Write a new playbook for NATO. Why I'm very skeptical about cooperating with Russia in Syria? Why I think it's important that we recapitalize our nuclear arsenal because they're doing a nuclear buildup, there are a lot dimensions, the Russia problem.


WHITFIELD: All right, turning now to another developing story. Members of the president's team including Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer just last June, two weeks after Trump clinched the Republican nomination.

Trump Jr. now confirming the previously undisclosed meeting first reported by the "New York Times". It's the first known meeting between some of the highest-ranking members of the Trump team and a Russian during the campaign.

CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is covering these new developments for us. So Elise what more do we know about these meetings?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, this supposed topic of the meeting was to talk about a program of U.S. citizens adopting Russian children which was ended by the Russian government. Now it's important to look into why that program was ended. It was ended because of something called the Magnitsky Act, which is a legislation against Russian officials for human rights abuses.

So this lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was acting on behalf of trying to end the Russian adoptions but she's also known as someone in Russia that was trying to get this legislation lifted. Now, Donald Trump Jr. said that the issue wasn't a campaign issue. And so, the Russian adoption thing, it was never really followed up. But the question is, why was Paul Manafort, the campaign manager, and Jared Kushner in the meeting?

WHITFIELD: And what's the reply, if any, coming from the administration?

LABOTT: Well, you know, the chairman and the Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, the president's chief of staff at the white house, kind of downplayed the meeting this morning on the show. Just take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Why would Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort all want to meet with the Russian lawyer about Russian adoption?

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Listen, I have no idea, Chris. You're going to have to talk to them. However, talking about issues of foreign policy, issues related to our place in the world, issues important to the American people like adoption is something that's not unusual.


LABOTT: Not unusual, Fred. But the question is, goes back to everything about why the Trump campaign, why after the transition, they were so interested in meeting with Russian officials, Russian individuals and that's really the question that comes up. Now, they say that this really had nothing to do with the campaign. But clearly, that issue of Russia still coming up.

And the Republicans are actually saying and a campaign spokesman for President Trump's legal team said that this could've been Democrats trying to make some -- the appearance of inappropriate contacts but they did accept the meeting and they did meet with this Russian lawyer, who was known for trying to lift some very anti-government legislation, Fred.

[14:10:00] WHITFIELD: All right, Elise Labott in Washington, thanks so much.

All right. Meanwhile, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is weighing in on why she thinks the president wants a joint-cybersecurity unit with Russia.


NIKKI HALEY, AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I think that we have to talk about cyber security not just with Russia but with everyone. And, look, you are always going to see the Democrats are repeatedly criticizing the president, that's unfortunate. Republicans are going to criticize Democrats, that's unfortunate. But let's just look at the situation.

You now have a Russian who's in charge of counterterrorism in the united nation. That was a position that the secretary-general gave Russia. And then you also see that, from a cyber standpoint, we need to get together with Russia. We need to tell them, you know, what we think should happen, shouldn't happen. And if we talk to them about it, hopefully, we can cut this out and get them to stop.

It doesn't mean we ever take our eyes off of the ball. It doesn't mean we ever trust Russia. We can't trust Russia and we will not ever trust Russia. But you keep those you don't trust closer so that you can always keep an eye on them and keep them in check and I think that's what we're trying to do with Russia right now. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about all of this now with CNN political analyst Josh Rogin, he is a columnist for the "Washington Post", CNN contributor David Fahrenthold, he's a reporter for "The Post" and Tim Stanley, he's a historian and a columnist for the "Daily Telegraph". Good to see all of you.

All right. So David, we will begin with you. Let's talk about this rationale that Nikki Haley was spelling out of keeping your enemies closer and thereby it makes sense to have Putin/Russia alongside the U.S. in this cybersecurity unit. Your thoughts?

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Nikki Haley is always an interesting person to hear from because she often seems to speak from a totally different place than the rest of the Trump administration on Russia. She seems much more wary of Russia and much more willing to confront Russia over what they've done than President Trump himself or people underneath Trump like Secretary Tillerson.

So it's hard to really know what that means. That logic that she's describing, we should keep Russia close so we can learn what they're doing, you can understand the logic for that. But I think the way that President Trump has described this very same partnership, it sounds more like something in which we would be sharing something that we know with the Russians, working together with them, rather than just sort of having a hot line to tell them to cut it out.

It really matters what actually comes of this, if anything does come of this because her vision of this working group seems very different than the one that President Trump himself has described.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So Tim, very mixed messages on trust. Haley is saying, don't trust Russia. But then, some are saying that Trump is sending a message that, you know, the U.S. should be trusting Russia.

This is the former CIA Director John Brennan on Trump undermining U.S. intelligence capabilities while at that G20.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, it certainly indicates he doesn't take the word of the intelligence community. That's what he's been doing repeatedly in terms of his public comments.

Two days before the G20 Summit in Warsaw, he continued to question the intelligence community's high competence assessment that Russia interfered in the election. He also raised questions about the integrity and capabilities of the U.S. intelligence community. And so therefore, I seriously question whether or not Mr. Putin heard from Mr. Trump what he needed to about the assault on our democratic institutions of the election.

He said it's an honor to meet President Putin. An honor to meet the individual who carried out the assault against our election? To me, it was a dishonorable thing to say. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, Tim, were there some confusing messages sent to world leaders? Are they walking away from the G20? And even, you know, reading the tweets from the president this morning in saying not really sure what's going on here.

TIM STANLEY, COLUMNIST, DAILY TELEGRAPH: It's seems to me, three different perspectives today. There is Nikki Haley saying that we do not trust Russia. So, nothing's changed in terms of our relationship. There are Russians, Sergey Lavrov, suggesting that Donald Trump has accepted Putin's claim that there was no Russian involvement in the election. And then thirdly and finally, we have the president's point of view which is ambiguous and shifts from day to day.

One day, as in Poland, he will be saying that Russia definitely hacked. Next day, he will be saying he wants to work with the Russians on cyber security. So the most curious position, the most strange one to understand is the president's. But it does make a bit more sense if you root it in the context of domestic politics.

I suspect the reason why Donald Trump will not come out with a clear line either way with Russia is because he's aware of the controversy back home. If the president were to accept totally and unambiguously that Russia interfered with the election, the implication of that is that Russia interfered with the election to help him. And he cannot accept that, not only because that would be politically very damaging for him but I suspect he also, psychologically, cannot accept that that is true.

So what he's desperate to do is draw a line under it and move on.

[14:15:00] But you know what, there are actual open investigations into this going on in America right now. But even on an international level, the president thinks he can create a new relationship with Russia, this is something he cannot escape from.

WHITFIELD: And so, Josh, even if there are some world leaders who are a little perplexed following the G20, then the same can be said for some Republican leadership. Listen to Senator Lindsey Graham just this morning.


GRAHAM: Tillerson and Trump are ready to forgive and forget when it comes to cyberattacks on the American election of 2016. Nobody is saying, Mr. President, the Russians changed the outcome, you won fair and square but they did try to attack our election system, they were successful in many ways and the more you do this, the more people are suspicious about you and Russia.

He's got a great national security team around him. He's doing a good job in Afghanistan, North Korea and ISIL, but when it comes to Russia, he's got a blind spot into forgive and forget. When it comes to Putin regarding cyberattacks is to empower Putin and that's exactly what he's doing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, Josh, given what graham said, how much more difficult is it going to be this point forward for the president to win the cooperation, support of Republicans when they see it this way, that he's missing the boat on the big picture here?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think Republicans, especially those who agree with Senator Graham, have been trying to make a very clear point, which is that, we need to separate the issues of allegations of collusion between Trump campaign and the Russians from the really serious vulnerabilities that still existed in our political and election systems that the Russians are sure to try to exploit again.

You know, we can sort of understand as Tim said that the political realities of why the president and his team don't want to talk about this or maybe they want to move past it, but there's a real natural security vulnerability here that a lot of Republican national security lawmakers are focusing on and we need to have a two-pronged response, one of deterrence and one of resilience.

If you don't punish the Russians, they will not be deterred from doing it again. And if we don't bolster our own systems, then anyone can do this again in 2018 or beyond. And those two things don't seem to be happening. And that's something that concerns Republicans and Democrats alike.

WHITFIELD: So, Josh, the president saying two things. He's saying let's move on but at the same time, let's work with Russia on cyber security.

ROGIN: Right. And there's example for this. The Obama administration after the Chinese totally vanquished our OPM records and several other systems, they did sort of this two-pronged approach. They went after some Chinese actors, some prosecutions.

They also had a summit with the Chinese leadership and said, OK, listen, we have to have a forum to discuss this, to be able to communicate and perhaps build some sort of rules of the road. And that's a reasonable approach. So we should be against talking to the Russians about anything but at the same time, that's only one part of the strategy.

The U.S./Russia relationship is big, it's complex and it involves Ukraine, Syria, ISIS, everything else, OK? So we have to find a way to work with them on the things that we can work with them on and stand up to their interference and mischief were necessary.

WHITFIELD: And David, today, Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Trump handled himself in that meeting brilliantly, his words. He also said Trump is purposefully being vague about the details of his meeting with Putin. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MNUCHIN: Why would President Trump broadcast exactly what he said in the meeting? Strategically, that makes no sense. What he broadcast and what he's discussed --

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR: Well, he's already doing that on Twitter this morning, he's just not answering that question.

MNUCHIN: I got it. Which, why should he answer that question directly? He's made it very clear how he feels. He's made it very clear that he addressed it straight on. And there was significant substance. This is a very important for us to have discussions on substantive issues and I think the president handled it brilliantly.


WHITFIELD: So, David, do you think the president thinks it's going to go away because of the way he handled it or is he anticipating it's provoking more questions?

FAHRENTHOLD: I don't know what he thinks; it certainly will not go away. There's sort of two things happening here. One, is this sort of political question. How much is the American public or other lawmakers care about Russia?

I think that will only get greater after this, especially, what you've seen from Senator Graham, Senator McCain, folks who've sort of called in congress for more scrutiny of what Trump is going to do with the cyber security cooperation, that's only one part of this.

This is also that Robert Mueller investigation that's going on sort of independent to politics. I don't think this will affect that that much but ultimately, the story of how Russia and the questions about collusion and Russian interference in the election. The question of how those affect Trump politically, we can't know what that is until we know what Mueller is going to come up with. We don't really know the facts that Mueller is going to uncover. So it's had to really predict when this will end, certainly not going to end anytime soon for Trump.

WHITFIELD: And so, Tim, what does the president need to say, in your view, before anyone can move on?

STANLEY: I'm not sure I (INAUDIBLE) that because it's all about choosing one particular strategic position and sticking to it.

[14:20:08] Again, I'm trying to put myself into the shoes of the president and see it how he's seeing it. Whether you regard this as a mix of naivete or blue, clear sky thinking, I suspect he thinks, why do we want conflict with Russia? Why do we want any kind of strategic tension with them?

Apart from the issues of Ukraine, apart from the issue of Assad, essentially, we share the same common goal when it comes to attacking terrorism. (INAUDIBLE) the line of the president's (INAUDIBLE) to push and that's what he means when he says let's move on. It's not just about putting domestic politics aside but it's about also carving up a new strategic vision for the Middle East, for Europe, et cetera, et cetera.

The problem is, I don't think there is anything the president can say on this subject that's going to satisfy -- either his supporters in some regards or certainly his critics. And one thing I've found very significant today, is that, almost everyone -- well, this being quoted criticizing the president, criticizing this meeting with Putin, has been a Republican.

Trump not only has to have a conversation with the Russians, not only he has to have a conversation with congress and the security agencies, he's having to have a conversation with his own party. And right now, not only is he at odds with them, but frankly, in terms of tone, he sounds like he's at odds with Nikki Haley. And that's a pretty important member of his own administration.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right. Tim Stanley, David Fahrenthold, Josh Rogin, thanks to all of you. See you soon.

All right. After nearly nine months of battle that killed thousands, Iraq's prime minister have announced Mosul has been liberated from ISIS. We're live on the front lines of the war-torn city, right after this.


[14:25:00] WHITFIELD: A major milestone in the war against ISIS after nearly nine months of fighting. Iraq is declaring victory in Mosul, announcing it has retaken the city from the terror group.

The Iraqi prime minister visited Mosul this morning and congratulated his soldiers on a quote, "Great Victory." But despite his claims, Iraqi state-TV says ISIS fighters are still holding out in one neighborhood. And you could see smoke rising in part of that city earlier today. CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh was in Mosul just less than two weeks ago or so. He joins us now from Erbil, Iraq. So, Nick, is this considered a victory?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is. I mean, we are still waiting for the announcement that the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office tweeted he would make when he arrived here. But he's so far been touring the safer areas of Mosul.

The Iraqi-state television is in full celebration mode. No doubt that this is the moment they want the nation to see that they have defeated ISIS. True, yes, there is still violence in the old city of Mosul, a pocket of ISIS fighters holding out there but it hasn't stopped Iraqi soldiers from erecting the flag very near the river that actually marks the back end of ISIS's remaining pocket of territory in that old city there.

So we may hear that speech in the forthcoming hours. It will, of course, give great comfort to many Iraqis who've endured the three years and ten days since ISIS announced their so-called caliphate in the city of Mosul itself that spanned Iraq and Syria. But while this is a moment in which a great weight has lifted off a nation that's, frankly, been a torn apart by almost 15 years of internal warfare here, there are still great challenges ahead, Fred.

This really came around, ISIS because of the sectarian divide in this country between the Sunni ethnicity and the Shia ethnicity. The Sunnis used to run the country and Saddam Hussein is minority, then the table has turned and the Shia are now mostly running the military and the government.

But it's the Sunnis extremists gave some kind of comfort and association for ISIS. They're very much feeling more marginalized now and being the other side of the line of the army fighting ISIS so many are deeply concerned that healing has to happen fast, so does reconstruction, so do a lot of things here. But right now, we're still seeing Iraqi state-TV pictures of Haider al-Abadi, the prime minister, shaking the hands of fellow Iraqis, trying to politically send a message this chapter is behind them. But everyone knows, there are tough months ahead, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Indeed. All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much from Erbil, Iraq.

All right. I want to bring in CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr and CNN military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, good to see both of you. So Barbara, you first. We haven't heard yet from the U.S. on this claim. When might that happen?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a bit of behind-the-scenes diplomacy going on at this hour, Fredricka, they are going to wait the U.S.-led coalition for Prime Minister Abadi to make the official announcement. They know he's out there, they know he's walking through Mosul congratulating his troops, looking at what has been happening there. They want to give him that moment.

And once he comes out and makes an official statement to his country, which is expected in the coming hours, then you will expect to see the U.S. coalition come back also with its own statement. They will be very congratulatory to the Iraqis but they will also note, there's a long road ahead; the reconstruction, ensuring security, getting ISIS out of other areas of Iraq.

WHITFIELD: And colonel, if Mosul is truly liberated, what would be the next step in this fight against ISIS?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, as both Nick and Barbara said, there are pockets of resistance in the country remaining and they have to be taken out. There's a significant one southeast of Mosul and southwest of Kirkuk called the Hawija pocket. That sits astride the main communication line from Baghdad to Mosul. So they've got to secure that area.

So I think we're going to see the Iraqi army swing down that way. We've already seen a lot of reconnaissance activity, we've seen movement of forces into that area. So I think that will be the next battleground. Not to take away what the Iraqis have done, this is a good victory for the Iraqis. This was the necessary initial first step. But there are other areas they have to address, including the Hawija pocket as I said, and importantly, the Euphrates Valley, all the way up to the Syria border.

WHITFIELD: And with all that, Barbara, how might the U.S. be utilized? How will the U.S. military potentially be involved?

STARR: Well, clearly, the U.S. will still take a very much the leading role in that overhead surveillance and reconnaissance --


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And with all that, Barbara, how will the U.S. be utilized, how will the U.S. military potentially be involved?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, the U.S. will take very much a leading role in that overhead surveillance and reconnaissance, aircraft and drones flying overhead almost constantly looking for ISIS targets, just as rick was saying, to go after them.

You can have troops on the round, but they're going to have to have aircraft overhead, patrolling these vast areas and look for the ISIS targets, securing strategic lines of communication, securing oil fields, making sure that ISIS isn't coming back.

So look for that air activity, including air strikes to continue and look for U.S. Special Forces, U.S. troops to be on the ground much closer to the front lines with Iraqi forces advising and assisting them, helping call in air strikes, helping them with intelligence, helping them maneuver the battlefield.

The U.S. has taken a much more direct role in the months leading up to this today, to the liberation of Mosul expect to see that continue.

WHITFIELD: And Colonel Francona, I want to ask you also about Syria now. So the U.S., Russia and Jordan negotiated a ceasefire that went into effect today. What are the indicators that you would be looking for to determine whether or not this ceasefire just brokered during the G20 is in fact being honored?

LT. COLONEL RICK FRANCONA (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It isn't. We've seen artillery strikes continuing from the moment the ceasefire was announced until the time it went into effect and I suspect it's not going to last very long. These things have a way of not happening.

But what's key here isn't the factor of the ceasefire itself. Ceasefires are always good, but always get broke. The key factor, the United States and Russians are talking to each other at that level to try to get a political solution in Syria. And I think that's the takeaway from this. The Americans and Russians actually talking to each other about the future of Syria now seriously.

WHITFIELD: For now you're encouraged. All right, Lt. Col. Rick Francona, thank you both so much, and Barbara Starr, appreciate it.

All right. Coming up, wildfires ripped through Southern California destroying homes and forcing thousands to evacuate. We'll take you there live, next.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So thousands of people have been forced to evacuate as wildfires spread quickly in California. At least five large fires are burning right now.

One of them forced children to flee from their summer camp, and travelers to abandon RVs, tents and boats, just look at some of the damage. Homes reduced to stacks of wood and just shells of some cars remain.

CNN correspondent, Dan Simon, is in Santa Barbara County, California. So Dan, two large fires are burning near you. Any indication if firefighters are close to containing them?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A very small level of containment thus far, Fred. Really a difficult situation out here, we are talking about mountainous, rugged, terrain, hot windy conditions although it is a little cooler today. So hopefully firefighters will be able to get an upper hand on this blaze.

I want to show where we are. This is a Boy Scout camp, or at least that's what it was. You can see these burned-out vehicles. This camp had been around for 50 years, and really within a matter of minutes, just went up in smoke, and just a mess out here.

You can see what was left of this home. It's just -- basically ruins. You can see a grill over there. We do know that, Fred, hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been evacuated in terms of these two fires in the area. You got hundreds of firefighters here on the scene.

We've seen the helicopters buzzing by trying to make some water drops, but, hey, it's that time of year again where you're talking about very hot temperatures and a lot of vegetation for these wildfires to rip through and what we're are dealing with now in California -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, sad situation. Thank you so much, Dan Simon. Appreciate that from Santa Barbara County.

All right, so while many people are protesting for a better life in Venezuela, there is a max exodus of those looking for a better future. Half of them are children. Ahead, a report from the streets of Colombia where Venezuelans are trying to make ends meet.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): This life they are living, he says, far away from home, no money, no school, is still better than what many are living in Venezuela, even if here they feel invisible.



WHITFIELD: The political and economic turmoil in Venezuela has forced many to cross the border into Colombia and nearly half of those making the hazardous trip are children, many of them hungry and searching for their next meal. Here's Leyla Santiago.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six-year-old Natalie wants food. She's hungry. Her mother hears, but doesn't have anything to give her. The family of five sitting on a street corner in Colombia made the journey from Venezuela last month. Ask Natalie why she's here --


SANTIAGO: She says things are tough because of Maduro, the president of Venezuela. Their lives here selling lollipops living day to day are an escape from political unrest, shortages and violence. Here they can make money and eat.


SANTIAGO (on camera): She says, she's here because she has to make money for the hotel.

(voice-over): The family depends on the generosity of others in a place where some help -- many don't -- and most are too distracted to notice the little boy who hasn't had a meal today.

The mayor of (inaudible) says the town cannot afford to support what he calls an exodus of Venezuelans. If anyone understands limited resources, it's Freddie. These lollypops are all they have to sell and to eat. Yet with the little money he collects, about $8 U.S. on a good day, the family pays for a room and their meal.

Tonight, a few bread rolls, a few for his sons and a few for complete strangers. Another Venezuelan family just like his because at the end of the day, dad wants his kids to understand, this isn't what he wants for them, but it should be appreciated.

This life they're living, he says, far away from home, no money, no school, is still better than what many are living in Venezuela. Even if here they feel invisible. Leyla Santiago, CNN, Colombia.


[14:45:01]WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Leyla Santiago. And we'll be right back.


[14:50:37] WHITFIELD: OK, so doesn't that make you want to relive the '90s or at least experience the decade for the first time if you weren't there? CNN's Brooke Baldwin is hosting a beach party kind of ramping up this big debut.

She is joining us now from Santa Monica wearing a t-shirt, maybe one of your favorite shows "Saved By The Bell." So tell us about this big beach party? What's going on?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So we are gearing up for this huge six-hour party. It you're in L.A., please, come out today. It's all about "The's Nineties." This is a special decade for me. I was in high school. I was in college. So we all love the '80s? Say anything action.

This is the '90s. We're all about celebrating the '90s today. Switch. All about the iPhone now. How about this? Was this pre-kind of pre-flip phone days? We're having fun at the Santa Monica pier. A quick lay of the land as doors are about to open here. Anyone can come by the way.

So there is a whole photo booth area. The part I'm most excited about, what's up, deejay? We're about to play, I've spent my entire flight out to L.A. thinking of my '90s play list, Pearl Jam, Michael Jackson, a little Tupac, Dre.

Since we are out here maybe some Outcast, a little Oasis, my list goes on and on. We want you to come out. All ahead of the big "Nineties" original series airing tonight.

Before I talk about that, I know Fred, you and I have been interviewing different people, getting stoked for "The Nineties." I talked to Jaleel White this week on CNN who was none other than Steve Urkal loved "Family Matters."

That was like total appointment viewing for me and my family on Friday nights. He told me, I didn't realize, Steve Urkal wasn't originally in the series, but it was doing OK the first series. They brought him in, and the whole show, as we all know, blew up.

When I talked to him, he talked to me about what he misses the most about the '90s. Here is Jaleel White.


JALEEL WHITE, ACTOR, PLAYED STEVE URKEL ON "FAMILY MATTERS": I was a very '90s kid. I miss the '90s myself.

BALDWIN: What do you miss the most?

WHITE: Oh, man. I mean -- that was such a big upswing in African- American film during that time. You know? Jon Singleton was like my hero. Made "Boyz in the Hood." You know, I miss baggy jeans. I miss that people used to dance until they sweat.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: There's a lot to miss, but reliving it tonight again on the Santa Monica pier. Let me just show you this beautiful shot of the ocean. Listen, twist my arm and send me to L.A., CNN, thank you very much. A whole screen.

Anyone who is in the area who wants to come, screening the episode today on the pier, 4:30 local Pacific Time. Again, the episode that, the focus tonight is TV. So through the afternoon I've got Sinbad. Sinbad is coming out today. Also Wilson Cruz from "My So-Called Life." So come on down and help me relive your '90s, and make a playlist.

WHITFIELD: Help us remember the sweaty dance floors. That's really cute, you know, Sinbad --

BALDWIN: He misses the dancing.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Perhaps Sinbad will help us recall the first DVD that was created in 1995, since Sinbad did a little of everything, acting, music as well. This is all about shows. I love that cellphone you were kind of holding up. What else will take us down memory lane if we come down to the pier in Santa Monica with you about the '90s?

BALDWIN: We have -- OK, this is really fun. There's actually an entire tables full, you can't totally see them now so here's the tease, board games. Show you next hour. I don't know how CNN found Light Brite, Girl Talk, "Operation," remember the game with the little pieces? You would put the --


BALDWIN: That was in the '90s. That's out here. They have some kind of candy from the '90s. I'm all about music. They've got the deejay. We'll be able to get our favorite tunes in, in the '90s.

WHITFIELD: I like it.

BALDWIN: Multiple t-shirts that CNN has given me. All about "The Nineties" ahead of the premier tonight 6:00 local, 9:00 Eastern. Fred, I will see in an hour with who knows what.

[14:55:06]WHITFIELD: I'll join you on the beach via satellite, television. Everyone else in Southern California, make your way to Santa Monica to join Brooke. Thanks so much. See you soon.

BALDWIN: Come on down.

WHITFIELD: "The Nineties airing tonight at 9:00 Eastern Time right here on CNN. So much more on the NEWSROOM straight ahead right after this.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections. It doesn't mean we ever trust Russia. We can't trust Russia and won't ever trust Russia.

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The president absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's made it very clear how he feels. He's made it very clear that he addressed it straight on.


WHITFIELD: So while his administration is out front today trying to clarify the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump, Trump himself has not made it clear what he believes. This morning on Twitter --