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North Korea Promises Firm Action to U.S. Sanctions; Violent Clashes and Deaths as Venezuela Votes; Kelly Takes the Helm as Trump's New Chief of Staff; Putin Retaliates to Looming U.S. Sanctions; Boston's Rock Climbing Secret; Firefighters Rescue Young Campers Trapped by Wildfire. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 30, 2017 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: A late candidate was gunned down in his home last night hours before voting began.

And a Venezuelan opposition leader was killed during protests today. All this in a country facing terrible food shortages and a collapsing economy, a live update from Caracas is moments away.

Now, in the other side of the world, a new threat from North Korea, the country, now promising firm action if U.S. sanctions continue, the threat is just the latest from the regime but this time, North Korea may be a greater danger than ever.

Experts say, the ballistic missile it tested on Friday, shows the country is capable of striking major U.S. cities including Los Angeles and even Chicago.

What's not clear however is whether North Korea has the technology to put nuclear warheads on top of those missiles, we have a team of reporters and analysts standing by on the Korean Peninsula and Venezuela.

And in Washington, let's begin with the world responding to this growing nuclear threat, the U.S. and its analyzer facing CNN international correspondent, Alexandra Field is live in Seoul, South Korea, and Dianne Gallagher is live in Washington.

Alexandra, this latest test posed the biggest threat yet. How does the reaction to this -- this time around compare to other missile launches?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, what is clear this time around is the fact that the missile and nuclear program in North Korea is developing at a faster rate than had many expected and many had believed.

And that is certainly confirmed by the fact that you have now had North Korea test launching two ICBM's in the space of just a month.

The response from the U.S. has been two fold and we've seen both of these response is from the U.S. before. You're seeing top administration officials in Washington and even the president himself, looking squarely at China, wanting China to use its leverage in the reign to reign in North Korea.

You have again seen the administration apply this kind of pressure to China. You also at the same time have the U.S. working with the military right here on South Korea to try and show strength, to try to show force in the face of these mounting threats.

While Pyongyang was celebrating the launch of that intercontinental ballistic missile, the South Korean and U.S. combined forces were participating live fire exercises. They were test firing their own ballistic missiles.

The U.S. has since deployed its own missile defense system in a test run and they've been flying B-1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula. These are all moves that Pyongyang will deem to be provocative.

Dress rehearsals, the regime sees it for some kind of invasion. Pyongyang has been responding to the response from the U.S. and South Korea, saying that more U.S. sanctions would be met with a firm response.

And look, Ana, we have certainly talked about this before, the Trump administration had promised a new approach to dealing with North Korea.

So far we've seen them lean heavily on China and we've seen them talk about the enforcement of sanctions that are already in place and the possibility of additional sanctions on North Korea.

But so far, the threats haven't worked and the flexing of military strength certainly hasn't worked. Since the beginning of the year, since President Donald Trump took office, the North Korean regime has launched 12 different ballistic missile launches.

And in just six years in power, Kim Jong-un had test launch more ballistic missiles than his father or his grandfather combined, truly an incredible acceleration in the rate of development of this program. Ana.

CABRERA: So, let's dig in to what the response is now from the Trump administration. Let's turn to Dianne Gallagher in Washington for us.

And tell us what else the administration is doing, Dianne, now that experts believe mainland cities are within North Korea's reach.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, and so, the most visible aspect of this of course is the military show of force. Now, this morning, THAAD system test, the bomber fly over yesterday.

There is the sanctions, the current ones and the ones that they're pushing for more of. And the of course, diplomacy, which means China.

President Trump tweeted over the weekend, accusing China of doing nothing to solve the North Korea threat and well, implying that there could be consequences intrude as a result. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley though, expanding on the United States frustration with international reaction today. Releasing a statement this afternoon, basically saying that there's no

point in having an emergency Security Council session any more, quote, an additional Security Council resolution that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value.

In fact, it is worse than nothing because it sends a message to the North Korean dictator that the international community is unwilling to seriously challenge him.

China must decide whether it is finally willing to take this vital step, the time for talk is over. The danger of the North Korean regime posse to inter national peace is now clear to all.

Ana, some strong words there of course from Haley, Vice President Pence, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein also saying today that well, China has got to step it up when it comes to North Korea. This is really the only diplomatic vessel. They appear to fell they have with this isolated nation.

CABRERA: Diane Gallagher in Washington, Alexandra Field in Seoul, thank you, ladies. .

[17:05:00] Let's talk more about this new threat from North Korea, Jonathan Cristol is with me.

He is a World Institute Policy fellow who studies U.S. foreign policy and nuclear proliferation. Jonathan, thanks for being with us.

You know, President Trump slammed China today on Twitter regarding North Korea. You said that tweet has made you a little bit nervous, why?

JONATHAN CRISTOL, FELLOW, WORLD INSTITUTE POLICY: Well, it makes me a bit nervous that President Trump thinks that China really holds all of the cards here, and he thinks that China should do what we want them to do just because we want them to do it. And I'm not sure that they have the same incentives that we have to reign North Korea in.

CABRERA: We know that China is the biggest trading partner with North Korea. So you don't think they are the ones that have the most leverage with North Korea?

CRISTOL: No, no. That's not what I mean. I mean that I'm not sure that they have the incentives to stop North Korea. That doesn't mean as much them as our desire to have them stop doing these tests.

CABRERA: Why is that?

CRISTOL: Well, I think that as long as -- because these test don't pose a threat to China. What poses a threat to China would be if the U.S. really stepped up a dramatic action in the region, if we increase our troop level in South Korea, if we had additional THAAD deployment.

Those kind of things China would want to avoid. They might -- that might be a reason for them to try to reign North Korea in. They certainly don't -- wouldn't want that. But if it doesn't looks like we're really going to do that much, then

I'm not sure why they would do it just for the sake of doing it.

Especially when they make money from those threats and they don't want a North Korean collapse that would send refugees over their border and would bring U.S. forces potentially up to the Chinese border.

CABRERA: What did you think of Nikki Haley's statement basically talks -- talks are over?

CRISTOL: Well, I think it's about actually -- I think it's always better to talk than not talk. But I don't really disagree with her statement. She's right that useless talks are probably worse than no talks.

But you know, the problem though is that you have tweets coming about this, that aren't exactly a red line, because no one really knows how to interpret them.

But you have a series of tweets from the president that one could interpret as a red line that were not going to let North Korea achieve what it appears they have already achieve. And I think that creates -- that might be worse than having useless talks.

CABRERA: Did the Obama administration really take any in roads or make steps that made a difference. We know that President Obama told President Trump that this North Korean threat was perhaps his greatest foreign policy threat as he entered office.

And yet, they've continued to advance their nuclear program at a rate that is now surprising experts with just how advanced it is.

CRISTOL: No, I don't think the Obama administration did too much on this. I think that the policy of strategic patience, otherwise known as basically doing nothing really.

It probably was not the way to go at the time. But look, I would take it back in a second versus what we have now, which is no real difference in policy, but again, was very confusing messages coming from the White House and the potential for the U.S. to do almost anything.

Well, I think in the Obama administration, one thing that I under -- underappreciated I think at the time, was that South Korea and Japan, our allies in the region didn't have to question our commitment to them.

That was very clear. And that kind of stable relationship is something that I think I and many other people took for granted. And I think we should be so lucky to have that right now.

CABRERA: Very quickly, do you think Kim Jong-un is crazy or calculated?

CRISTOL: I think he's calculated. I think we live for -- we live now with over a thousand Russian nuclear warheads pointed at us, we've manage to sleep at night.

I think when we have when and if, probably when, we have North Korean nuclear warheads pointed at us, we will manage to sleep at night as well. You don't just test and then launch. That's just not how it works.

CABRERA: Well, thank you so much, Jonathan Cristol, we really appreciate your expertise.

CRISTOL: Thank you.

CABRERA: Thank you for being here. Turning now to Venezuela's deadly election. Time is running out for voters, has blood shed and violence erupt.

One candidate was shot and killed in his own home last night. And now, fresh explosions are rocking the streets of Caracas, smoke from burning motorcycles, filling the air. Watch this.



CABRERA: Today's vote could be a stark turning point for Venezuela. Controversial President Nicolas Maduro wants more power and rule changes to install a fresh government, create his political opponents.

The Trump administration has warned Maduro to cancel the vote or face financial repercussions. Let's get right to correspondent Leyla Santiago in Caracas.


CABRERA: And Leyla, polls are expected to close pretty soon, within the next hour or so.

[17:10:00] The president had called for a ban on protests today. Fill us in on the latest.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, nobody seems to be listening up, nobody from the opposition anyway seems to be listening to that ban on protests as we were out and about today.

And as we just saw in that video you showed, protesters are still taking to the streets, to speak out not only against this election, not only against the constituent assembly that could result from the election but also against the government itself.

As we were out on the street today, we spoke to people who said this is more than just an election. This is about solving a crisis that centers around food and medical shortages, around freedom, around democracy.

And they're not backing down despite any sort of ban on protests, despite any sort of new election. They say they are here to stay until something changes. And they're hoping -- they're hoping that the international pressure

will also take a part in having some sort of change in the government. Now, that is one side, Ana, that is the opposition.

When you go to the polls and you see a lot of those supporters of the government, they say that they are voting today, they're voting for a new constituent assembly that could rewrite the constitution, because they believe that is what will bring peace to this country. Ana.

CABRERA: So it's still possible though that the people voting could turn down this referendum, no?

SANTIAGO: Well, you know, a lot of people are waiting to find out what will happen in the next few days. The opposition had said we are willing to have a dialogue, but we want you to push back this election, that didn't happen.

Of course, as I mentioned, you are waiting to see the international pressure that is mounting, the sanctions that could come but what they are voting for today are the more than 500 seats for this constituent assembly.

Once that assembly is elected, that will give them the power to rewrite a constitution that dates back to 1999. So that could be some changes. That could also change what kind of power the president has. Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Leyla Santiago, keep us posted on the developments there. Thank you.

And coming up, with John Kelly starting his first day as chief of staff tomorrow, and questions swirling about his replacement at homeland security, is Kelly just what the White House needs to get on track? We'll discuss next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Retired four-star general John Kelly takes the corner office in the White House tomorrow, just steps away from the commander in chief. Kelly is expected to bring his marine sense of order to the West Wing as President Trump's new chief-of-staff.

But he inherits a White House that is filled with tension. And a brash new communications director Anthony Scaramucci who gave that uncensored and arguably, undisciplined interview to The New Yorker last week.

Our Boris Sanchez is joining us. Now, Boris, any sense of whether Kelly and Anthony Scaramucci will mesh, they certainly seem to have very different styles.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very different styles, Ana, very different backgrounds, too. If you look at Secretary General Kelly, who spent more than 50 years serving in the military. He is a highly decorative four-star general. Someone who has you said is highly respected for his sense of

discipline and order. And then you have Anthony Scaramucci who comes from a Wall Street type culture.

He's a very successful entrepreneur and as you said, he can be a bit boisterous, and as we saw in his first press conference as White House director of communications, he wants to let Trump be Trump.

The question now is ultimately, will Anthony Scaramucci report to Secretary-General Kelly as chief-of-staff. Traditionally in the White House, that's the way it works.

But as we saw, when Scaramucci was first put in place, he was reporting directly to the president, not to former Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus. We have asked officials at the White House that question. They have yet to give a direct answer, Ana.

CABRERA: And Boris, there is buzz there in Washington over the speculation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions could possibly move into the Homeland Security secretary post that was vacated by General Kelly. Here's what Kellyanne Conway said about this during a Fox News interview today.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Again, that's a personnel question that only the president can answer. I will tell you that the president has expressed frustration about the recusal, so much has flowed from that recusal, and so much of President Trump's agenda flows from the Department of Justice.

Many of the primary issues and the program he won successfully on go through the Department of Justice. And look at what's happened with this ridiculous Russian collusion delusion.


CABRERA: So, Conway didn't reveal a whole lot there, Boris, but what are you hearing in Washington about who could be named Homeland Security secretary?

SANCHEZ: Yes, Ana, she didn't reveal much, but it is somewhat revealing that she again reiterated that complaint from the president, and that main point of frustration between Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions, the fact that the attorney general recused himself from the Russia investigation.

To be clear, this is purely speculation that was brought about by a political report that indicated that there were sources that spoke to people at the Department of Homeland Security who floated Jeff Sessions as a potential new secretary for the DHS.

CNN has not -- no indication from the president that he's actually considering this, or that Jeff Sessions would even take on that role.

But several lawmakers are taking this somewhat seriously, at least entertaining this as a possibility. We saw Lindsey Graham yesterday say that it was a bad idea.

[17:20:00] Earlier today, Senator Susan Collins of Maine was asked about it, she said that she would be against such a move if it were because Sessions recused himself. But obviously, that's Donald Trump's biggest gripe against Jeff Sessions.

Ultimately, it will be difficult if the president were to make this move, which he legally can, because Sessions has already been confirmed by the Senate, he can be installed as the head of the DHS for up to 210 days.

But it would be difficult for him to get someone else confirmed as attorney general because Sessions has so much report among his fellow Congress people. Ana.

CABRERA: That's the sticking point. Boris Sanchez in Washington, thank you. So with John Kelly taking the helm at the Trump White House this week, what does that mean for the pecking order in the West Wing?

What will the new chief of staff encounter in a White House that is compared to a reality TV show, where questions still linger about whose next to hear the words you're fired.

CNN Political Analysts Josh Rogin and Julian Zelizer are joining us to discuss. Josh, first of the Sessions being reassigned to take over General Kelly's spot at the Department of Homeland Security, it sounds like the White House isn't ruling out.

In fact, we heard Kellyanne Conway emphasize Sessions current work on immigration issues that obviously could crossover to DHS.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think what's clear, is that even the people inside the White House have no idea if that -- this is a real thing or not, right?

This could be just something that one part of the administration is floating. There's no indication the president has really waited on that one way or the other.

So everyone has sort of left to speculate whether or not it would be good or bad, without actually having any confidence that this is a thing that actually might happen. So that's bizarre, but let's put that aside and analyze it anyway.

And then, this would be a huge demotion for Jeff Sessions. I mean if we -- if you're looking for a way to save face and give him an off- ramp. I guess this would qualify.

But attorney general and Department of Homeland Security secretary are not the same thing, OK? And it's not clear to me why Sessions would take that. It's not clear to me that that would actually allow him to save any face. So overall, the whole idea seems half baked at best.

CABRERA: But, Julian, if Trump were to make this move -- it's the big if, of course, could he even escape the questions then about whether this had something to do with the Russia investigation?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, as this story has already emerged, you heard some backlash from Congress including Capitol Hill.

I think the move would be seen as being not about Jeff Sessions, but about Robert Mueller, and this is -- would be seen as the first step in trying to remove him.

So I think if he made this, even though it's maybe a more subtle way to get rid of Attorney General Sessions, many people on the Hill, including Republicans Lindsey Graham would see it for what it is, and it might cause a lot of problems.

CABRERA: A source close to General Kelly, tells CNN Kelly plans to implement process first. He is going to put checks in place when it comes to access to the president.

We've got Scaramucci reporting to the president, Ivanka and Jared reporting to the president, don't forget Steve Bannon. Josh, does it sound like Kelly is going to try to create a more traditional structure at this administration and would that even play?

ROGIN: Yes, I think he has to. He has no choice. I mean what they've got is chaos, and that's a lot of the reason why Reince Priebus failed as chief-of-staff is because he was set up for failure without being empowered.

So it seems natural and you know of course obvious that General Kelly would want to try to tame the zoo. What the $64,000 question is whether or not President Trump wants that, OK? We keep hearing from White House officials that the president loves competing power centers.

He loves it when his senior aids bicker with each other. He thinks that creates the best outcomes. There's a lot of evidence that it doesn't create the best outcome.

But anyway, General Kelly is not going to be able to impose a process or any type of structure that President Trump is not amenable to, OK?

So he's going to try but then you have this competing sort of wave that Anthony Scaramucci keeps talking about, which is oh, we're going to let Trump be Trump.


ROGIN: You can't do both, either you're going to impose order and discipline or you're going to let Trump be Trump, which is the opposite of order and discipline. Who's going to win that battle? I don't think anyone can predict.

CABRERA: We see the president tweet this weekend and we know a lot of that close to and inviting him not to tweet, so it goes back to what you said about Trump being Trump and that is coming true.

ROGIN: Yes. CABRERA: Julian, leadership starts at the top, and you have said that it was a leadership failure by the president because that Obamacare repeal and replace legislation did not happen. You say, he owns this, let me read what you wrote on an op-ed on CNN.

He says, had this been an episode of The Apprentice, someone would be sitting around the boardroom table telling the commander-in-chief, you're fired. Explain why you think he owns this failure?

ZELIZER: Well, he made many leadership mistakes as president from tweets that consistently distracted attention from Republicans in their effort to sell the bill. He never really sold the bill himself to the public or explained what it was going to be about.

He intimidated members of his own party and threatened them on television, so you could watch Senator Heller for example of Nevada be threatened face to face. None of that really works.

[17:25:00] And at many moments he didn't seem to understand what was even in the bill, and would say contradictory things. So a lot of this has to rest on his shoulders. And I think that's part of why he's a bit defensive about the failure through his tweets, and now he's blaming Republicans.


ZELIZER: He's blaming the Senate filibuster. But I think he has to look at himself as part of what happened.

CABRERA: He does seem fixated on this Obamacare legislation that failed. In fact, that's a little out of his tweets have been about this weekend.

The president went from saying let's -- let's let Obamacare unflawed to this tweet this weekend saying if a new health care is not approved quickly, bailouts for insurance companies and bailouts for members of Congress will end very soon. Josh, does that sound like a threat to lawmakers?

ROGIN: Yes, there's two threats in there, one real threat and one empty threat, right? The threat is about is if he's going to stop paying the Obamacare subsidies, which could really disrupt the insurance markets even more in -- you know, affect millions of people and their healthcare by the way.

The threat to lawmakers is a little bit tougher to really sink in, because obviously these lawmakers are all making decisions based on their own political analysis.

So if they've already voted against the bill, they've already calculated that they're immune to whatever, you know, backlash the president could bring upon them.

Politicians are going to do what's in their political interest. You know, rather than threaten them, the president might try to persuade them or entice them that going with him is in their political interest. But that's not the path he's chosen.

And with his poll number and his approval number is where they are, those threats get less and less credible as time goes on. And as we get closer to the election, you know, each lawmaker, especially Republican lawmakers are going to do what they think is best for their re-election, no matter what the president tweets.

CABRERA: Julian, in the meantime, you know, the president is focused right now on fixing his own team, focusing on Obamacare as domestic agenda here.

And then we've got Venezuela happening, with North Korea happening, with the chaos that's happening inside the White House. Is the president and his team prepared to deal with what's happening around the world?

ZELIZER: Well, many people would probably say no. And I don't think all of those people are Democrats. There's a lot of concern about how will he handle these multiple crisis as they unfold.

We've been talking about this and speculating this about this and here it is. And I think many of the problems that you see on domestic problem -- policy will also be problems on foreign policy.

The tweets, the threats, the kind of ad-hoc approach to public policy, law be highly problematic when dealing with other countries, when dealing with other leaders, when dealing with military situations.

So I think all the problems people have been discussing with his leadership at home are the same kind of issues he will have to deal with if he wants to handle these threats and challenges effectively.

CABRERA: Julian Zelizer and Josh Rogin, thank you both for joining us. Speaking of other threats, Vladimir Putin says he's now kicking 755 Americans out of his country in retaliation for U.S. sanctions on Russia. We're live in Moscow for the latest, next.


CABRERA: To Russia now where President Vladimir Putin is speaking out today about how he plans to punish the United States for new sanctions approved by Congress.

Hundreds of U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia will soon be out of work, Putin says. Well, he was hoping relations with the U.S. would change for the better. It clearly isn't going to happen any time soon in his words. CNN's Matthew Chance is joining us live now from Moscow. And Matthew, what more can you tell us about these comments from the Russian president?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, this is Vladimir Putin confirming what's been reporting in the state media here for at least the last 24 hours, that these hundreds of people that are employed by U.S. diplomatic offices, the embassies and the consulates here in Russia will basically have to go. I mean, what the president of Russia was saying, is that the amount of

people that the U.S. missions employ in Russia will have to be reduced by 755 personnel, which is of course -- you know, it's almost -- it's more than half in fact of the amount of people that are employed across the embassy and the three consulates the United States has in Russia.

As you mentioned, Vladimir Putin said he did this with some regret. He said that we waited a long time for things to change for the better.

We hoped the situation would change, but then judge the situation would not change place soon. Take a listen to what he said in that announcement or that address on national television.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through a translator): I thought it was time for us to show that we will not leave this without an answer.

As for other prosper measures or whether it is a lot or not, this is quite sensible from the point of view for the work of the diplomatic department.

Because a thousand or so employees, diplomats and technical workers have worked and still work in Russia, 755 will have to stop their activities in the Russian federation.


CHANCE: A lot of what's not clear at the moment is whether -- what proportion of these 755 people will be U.S. citizens, because across all of these and this isn't in consulate.

The United States employs a proportion of U.S. citizens and a portion of local staff as well to carry out the sort of embassy and consulate operations. And so, it's not clear at this point how many U.S. diplomats will shortly be on the plane home.

CABRERA: Matthew Chance in Moscow, thank you. Coming up in the NEWSROOM, a democratic congressional staffer for Debbie Wasserman Schultz is arrested while trying to leave the country. And it's not the first time he's been under investigation. The detail is next.


CABRERA: After such a whirlwind week in Washington, just a minute and catch up on some of the other stories you might have missed, starting with a former democratic staffer who was arrested in D.C. just before boarding a flight out of the country.

Imran Awan used to work for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz seen here, and he was arrested on bank fraud charges. He and his wife were accused of misrepresenting their assets on a loan application and then wiring the money they borrowed to Pakistan. Again, this is Debbie Wasserman Schultz not the person we're talking about. Awan has said been fired by Wasserman Schultz and now, an unlikely phone call were just learning about that could have been a driver behind senator John McCain's decision to give a thumbs down on that skinny repeal of Obamacare.

The Washington Post reporting that former Vice President Joe Biden personally called McCain before Friday's vote and asked him to vote no.

The two apparently had what's described as an emotional conversation about Biden's son who died from brain cancer in 2013. McCain has been diagnosed with the same type of cancer what happened earlier this month.

[17:40:00] And finally, a story that seems hard to believe the U.S. and Border Protection has discovered three deadly king cobras being smuggled into the U.S. in potato chip canisters.

Authorities also found six protected turtles delivered to the suspect's home, King cobras are protected under the Endangered Species Act and are banned from import and export under international trade law. So that means the man arrested could now face up to 20 years in federal prison.

Turning to a shocking moment when an airport worker in France, punches a passenger for complaining in line.


CABRERA: Take a look at this video, you see here in white. That's a man who appears to reach over and whacks the passenger in the face while he's holding his baby in his arms.

Apparently, the man had been waiting for 11 hours to board an EasyJet flight from Nice to London. EasyJet however says the imperative employee doesn't actually work for the airline.


CABRERA: Coming up, beyond the call of duty, incredible video and an incredible story of heroism, how firefighters managed to save dozens of campers, including nearly 60 children as these flames moved closer and closer.

But first, Boston might not be the first place you think of for a rock climbing adventure. But just a few miles outside of the big city is a place that can take your next trips to new heights.


TIM PECK, CLIMBER: What I love about rock climbing is combing the physical challenge of climbing a rock with the mental challenge of solving the problem. It makes you think, it makes you work.

DOUG MARTLAND, EASTERN MOUNTAIN SPORTS SCHOOL: Over here at Quincy Quarries -- Quincy Quarries is a real unique spot, a major climbing area just outside of Boston.

PECK: It's a little bit different of a location than you would associate with rock climbing. It's definitely like a little bit more urban.

MARTLAND: People that climb here have all sorts of abilities. The lessons that we run here are primarily for beginners or folks that are transitioning outdoors from gym climbing. Climbing is a great way to work your entire body.

You discover various muscles that you didn't know you had. It's also rewarding in that in one or two goes, you can normally work your way up the route and see a real sense of progress.

PECK: I'm actually kind of scared of heights. And I think it's sort of -- every time you climb the rock, it's sort of battling a little bit of that fear.



CABRERA: Now to California, where some brave firefighters are being called heroes from rescuing 58 children and 24 adults from a raging wildfire. You can just imagine the fear they must have felt as this fire burned on both sides of the road leading to the circle of the ranch camp.

Flames in fact surrounded the young campers and came within just 600 feet of the building they were huddled in for safety. Our Stephanie Elam spoke with the firefighters who went beyond the call of duty to rescue them.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It takes just a split second for this wildfire to explode.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was literally like a nuclear bomb went off.

ELAM: The intense flames blocking first responders from getting up this narrow dirt road. Even worse, about 80 kids are enjoying summer camp up there at the Circle V Ranch, literally in the line of fire with no way out about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew that there wasn't a chance for the fire to go left or right. It was all funneling right towards Circle V.

ELAM: The counselors loaded the campers in the few cars they had, but the blaze was just too intense, they had to turn back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was all orange and smoky, and there was a lot of black.

ELAM: They're the same conditions rescuers faced, the fire's intensity forcing them to retreat. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I needed to get somebody that we had communication

with up there.

ELAM: The Chief Oaks then sent David Dalberg to give it a shot.

DAVID DALBERG, U.S. FREST SERVICE: there were a few sections of the road that were enveloped in smoke. Totally covered, I could not even see the hood of my vehicle.

ELAM: Rocks and tree limbs were falling from above.

DALBERG: A few hit my truck and rolled off.

ELAM: And then a wall of flame rolled across the road, again, keeping sheriff's deputies at bay. Not Dalberg, he was the only one to beat the flames.

STEVE OAKS, CHIEF, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY FIRE: The fact that Dave was able to get through is still frankly a little bit of a mystery.

ELAM: Do you think about what could have happened?

DALBERG: It definitely could have been a lot worse. I try not to think about it.

ELAM: By now, the campers were all sheltered in the dining hall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It shocked me it was that close to us.

ELAM: Dalberg worked to make the camp more fire safe, his presence calming the kids. But his own video shows a fire still bearing down. Firefighters battled the blaze from the sky then a bulldozer arrived and began clearing the nearby brush. Eventually more rescuers made it, just as the fire was reaching camp.

DALBERG: It's starting to come up towards the camp and it is wrapping some of the buildings.

ELAM: With the bulldozer leading the way. The rescue vehicles loaded up the kids and headed down the hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the fire burned down the tree and it felt like right next, he says we we're leaving.

ELAM: All of the counselors and kids made it out. Back into the arms of their frightened parents and with the message for the rescuers who likely saved their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very well appreciated. You kept our camp safe. And most importantly, that you kept all of us children safe.

ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Santa Barbara County, California.


CABRERA: Just and incredible video. Thanks, Stephanie. Polls are expected to close in just the next hour in Venezuela. Coming up, we will take you there live.

It's been a deadly day of voting there with demonstrators taking to the streets despite a protest ban there. What today's vote could mean for the future of this country on the brink of civil war as one expert put it. Stay with us.


CABRERA: On tonight's brand new episode of The History of Comedy, we explore the fascinating mind of the comedian and how comedy itself can any form of madness, addiction and even therapy. Here is a sneak peek at this episode, Spark of Madness.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was 12 or 13, one of my best friends called me up once. He was like a drug dealer at 12, come over. I go what -- what do you got? You got to hear this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you do? You give them anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a pretty good cast. Want to buy it? I think we're onto something this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, Margaret. Try to swim in.

[17:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The routines are ridiculously brilliant. It was endless ripping. And I'm going whose brain can do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United Nations now recognize the Democrat from (Inaudible).

MIKE SACKS, AUTHOR, AND HERE'S THE KICKER: To be as genius as Jonathan Winters, you have to think differently than normal people. He's working within his mind at a very high level, a very fast level. By thinking that way and being that untether to the rest of us you can lose your mind more easily.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jonathan was a propounding troubled guy that had drinking issues, that had depression issues that were clinical, that were deep.


CABRERA: Joining us now is Mike Sacks, author of Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today's Top Comedy Writers. Mike, you're featured in tonight's episode because you had chance to talk to so many of these comedians who struggled with mental health issue, with depression. Why do you think it's common in the business?

SACKS: Well, I don't know if comedy causes depression or depression causes comedy. But I do think it helps in a sense to -- when you have a spark of madness, which is the title for tonight's show, you do have to think differently. And I think by thinking differently, it can cause you to sometimes

lose touch with the norm. I mean, what we just saw with Jonathan Winters, this is a guy who is thinking differently than those who think differently.

And if you're that many levels removed from normalcy, it can cause you to go crazy in which case he was institutionalized for many years.

CABRERA: So you think there might be something to it with always looking for the big laugh, being a comedian as you are working through that itself can take a toll on the psyche.

SACKS: Well how can it not, I mean, if you're up on stage and you are -- you need laughs. You want laughs and you never know if you're going to get laughs. You can work in the business for 50, 60 years.

It's still a mystery as to whether a joke works or not. So I think that drives people crazy in the business because it's a dopamine rush.

When you write a good joke and you perform it a good joke, you get a high and if you can't reach that high sometimes you reach for another ways. And that's why I think alcohol and drugs play a part in a lot of stand up comedians and comedy writers' lives.

CABRERA: You talk to some of these guys, you mention Jonathan Winters, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams are also featured in the episode, any story that in particular stands out to you.

SACKS: Well, the Robin Williams case in particular really sadden me, here is a guy who grew up alone in very large house, in bedroom performing in his head, performing characters, creating different worlds and then he ended up dying alone in a room and a big house.

And it was the alone part that got to me. Here is someone who created so many -- so much laughter, so much joy for so many people and for him to have died alone I think that says more about comedy than practically any other story.

That devastated the comedy community. He was incredibly nice guy who suffered from major depression and other mental illnesses. And that just -- that hit very hard in the community.

CABRERA: What is the answer to helping these people who may be dealing with something secretly?

SACKS: Well, I think it's different now. I think it's out there. I know there's a -- you know, depression is always mentioned when it comes to comedy. It's also a string link I found between OCD and comedy.

And when I was growing up, I was -- I felt alone about that. But I think now, there's a community out there. Everyone who's comedy or practically everyone, when they were young, were called weird and strange.

I think now they can reach out. And I think that's a good thing. That they can seek out like minded people and they can also seek out if they are having certain issues whether it's anxiety or depression or OCD.

And they can see that very popular, very successful people have it and it's nothing to be ashamed about and that in the end, it can almost be helpful for comedy.

CABRERA: I'm so glad we had chance to have this discussion. Mike Sacks, thank you very much for joining us.

SACKS: Thank you so much.

CABRERA: And please do tune in tonight for the History of Comedy. It's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with us on this Sunday.

I'm Ana Cabrera in New York, lot's to get to. We begin with the deadly clashes in Venezuela.




CABRERA: It's been a bloody election day there in that country. Candidate was gun down in his home last night and a National Guard officer has also been killed. Others have died as well including an opposition leader.

And two people found dead at a polling (Inaudible), all of this in a country where people are starving. There's a shortage oe medicine, the economy is collapsing.

These on across the globe, North Korea is issuing new threats as experts say the country now has new capabilities, missiles capable of striking major U.S. cities from Los Angeles to Chicago.

That is what is not known however is whether North Korea could put nuclear warheads on those missiles. All this playing out as the White House struggles to find disciple and order and get on message with two top officials booted in just one week.