Return to Transcripts main page


North Korea Could Use Holiday for New Nuclear Provocation; EPA to Roll Back Obama's Clean Power Plan; Dallas Cowboys Owner: Stand for Anthem or Sit on the Bench; Las Vegas Massacre; Catalonia Crisis; California Wildfires, McDonald's Limited Szechuan Sauce. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 10, 2017 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:12] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live form Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Nuclear watch -- President Trump teases about with North Korea while the world watches Kim Jong-Un celebrate a holiday.

VAUSE: The Dallas Cowboys owner wants players to stand for the national anthem or take a seat on the bench.

And after insisting Vice President Mike Pence's weekend NFL walk-out was not a political stunt, the Trump campaign uses it as a fundraiser.

SESAY: And Spain on edge ahead of a potentially historic day as crisis and division rip the country, Catalonia weighs a declaration of independence.

VAUSE: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay, NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: U.S. officials, regional allies and the entire region around Asia now waiting for a possible nuclear provocation by North Korea. Pyongyang often celebrates state holidays with nuclear or missiles tests and today, the North is marking a major anniversary -- the founding of the ruling party.

SESAY: Meanwhile close military advisers to President Trump are favoring a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff. But the U.S. Defense chief is calling on the army to stand ready just in case diplomacy doesn't work.


JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: But there's one thing the U.S. Army can do and that is you have got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our President can employ if needed. We currently -- we currently are in a diplomatically-led effort and how many times have you seen the U.N. Security Council vote unanimously, now twice in a row, to impose stronger sanctions on North Korea. The international community has spoken but that means the U.S. army must stand ready.


VAUSE: As so many have noticed, sanctions alone have not and most likely will not force the North Koreans to give up their illicit nuclear and missile programs. Threats and insults from the U.S. president have only encouraged a schoolyard style of back and forth with Pyongyang.

At a minimum U.S. Secretary of State was exploring back channel communications with the North Koreans but he was publicly undermined and humiliated by President Trump who tweeted it was a waste of time.

Kim Jong-Un might feel the same way especially given the Trump administration's record so far. It seems many international deals are not worth the paper they're written on.

Markos Kounalakis, is a visiting fellow with the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. He joins us now from San Francisco.

Markos -- thanks for being with us.

President Trump has struck a lot of deals since he came into office from trade to climate change. He even left NATO dangling there for a while. Eventually the country does that for long enough and often enough I guess it does become a question of trust. Has the Trump administration reached that point?

MARKOS KOUNALAKIS, VISITING FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTE: Well John -- you know, it's exactly the case is that as my colleague George Shultz, the former secretary of state says you need trust. You need credibility. You need to be able to go out on the world stage and represent that, in fact, what you say is what you will do.

And so what we're seeing is that invariably President Trump is talking about tearing up agreements and not -- not really standing behind those agreements that were made by previous administrations.

VAUSE: Ok. So one of the biggest deals, of course, which the President says he has decided on where we just don't kind of even know what he plans to do is the Iran nuclear deal. We don't know if he'll scrap it, if he'll send it to Congress, if he'll recertify it.

And all of this, despite senior officials within his own administration saying, you know, you may not like the Iranians but they are in compliance with this particular deal. So clearly what the President decides about Iran could have implications, you know, beyond Iran and even beyond North Korea.

KOUNALAKIS: That's exactly right. And in fact, one of the pieces that I recently wrote is suggesting that nuclear deals are the hardest of all the deals to make because the nations that want to hold to -- that we want to denuclearize are unwilling and perhaps even understand that it's a bad deal for them to actually enter into a disarmament agreement.

It is tough to begin with and if you have this extra layer of not holding up or standing up the previous commitments that you've made. Well then, it's really impossible.

VAUSE: That's one side of the equation because there's also, you know, two parties in an agreement or when it comes to Iran there's five plus one.

On Monday the U.S. President tweeted this, "Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years giving billions of dollars and getting nothing. Policy didn't work."

[00:05:00] And he's arguing the North Koreans have cheated on previous agreements or deals that give up their nuclear program in secret. So you know, when you're talking about trust, it does go both ways.

KOUNALAKIS: Absolutely. And -- but, you know, we also are in a situation where during those 25 years the armistice is held. I mean there have been skirmishes. There have been problems. We're unhappy. We, the United States, are unhappy.

And it's a noble effort to work towards a disarmament agreement. But what we should maybe be thinking about is how do you get them to containment? How do we actually make sure that they don't use those nuclear weapons that they have because I'm not counting on them giving them up?

VAUSE: And right now though, if you listen to every -- everything that is coming out of the White House, especially everything that's coming out of -- or coming from, you know, the President, it seems that the U.S. strategy, at least according to Donald Trump is looming towards anything but -- anything but diplomacy. It's all heading towards a military option here.

KOUNALAKIS: Yes. It's a very -- it's a very dangerous moment. I mean clearly the Secretary of State is working towards a diplomatic solution. We heard the Secretary of Defense just now on your program talk about how diplomacy -- this is a diplomacy-led moment when we're trying to come to some level of solution.

I'm sure that there is a second track being conducted so that we can try to get to a point where we can live with whatever the North Koreans decide.

But the reality is, and I wrote -- as I said, I wrote in my piece, that nuclear deals in many ways are for suckers. We've seen in the past that those countries that have entered into nuclear deals have really ended up either invaded or their leader has been overthrown. And I'm speaking specifically about Libya or Ukraine.

Ukraine gave up the world's third largest nuclear arsenal when the Soviet Union dissolved. And look at what happened. They lost Crimea, the Donbas region as it were. And I can assure you that if they maintain their nuclear weapons, this is again, from a Ukrainian perspective, Russia would not have done what it's done to Ukraine.

VAUSE: And Nicholas Kristof, who is a CNN contributor and a writer for the "New York Times", he has just returned from North Korea. He's been there a lot over the last 25 years or so. And he said this is the first time he saw this country mobilizing in such a way. And he adds that the hard liners seem to have gained greater power this year especially after Trump's rhetoric totally destroying North Korea. And we were told the military officers sometimes mock their own country's diplomats for being wimpish, American cronies.

There are hard liners, too right now in Washington. So does this dynamic mean that, you know, diplomacy is essentially done, both sides are trying to find reasons why if they ever got to the point of sitting down and talking, a deal would never work.

KOUNALAKIS: Well, I sure hope not because as we all feel, I mean anybody in this country and around the world right now feels the escalation of tensions.

You don't have to be in those diplomatic meetings to know that right now we're escalating it both rhetorically. We're escalating it in terms of the way that we're moving military hardware around. We see what's happening in the streets of Pyongyang and how this rhetoric is actually escalating there as well.

So this is a very dangerous moment. And you know, as a citizen, I am worried about what's going on. So I am hoping and praying really that diplomacy can be successful.

VAUSE: I think so many people would join in that prayer. I guess we'll have to see what happens. Of course, you know, there's always this danger of miscalculation in all of this and that's one of the biggest fears of all.

Markos -- as always. Good to see you. Thanks so much.

KOUNALAKIS: Thank you.

VAUSE: Joining us now for more CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson; also with us CNN political commentator and Republican consultant John Thomas.

Ok. So let's start with the, you know, the politics of all of this. You know, when Nicholas Kristof with "New York Times", he was in North Korea, he interviewed a senior official with the foreign ministry.

You know, that (inaudible) official talking about tweets from the U.S. president accusing the North Koreans of systematic torture of the Americans, you know, Otto Warmbier. He died earlier this year. But listen to what this diplomat has to say.

(NICHOLAS KRISTOF INTERVIEW WITH CHOE KANG-IL - SPOKEN IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) VAUSE: Yes. Unless your Korean was up to speed I guess read would have to be a better description. But, you know, that is how the President, the U.S. President tweets are being received. And combine that with what we're hearing the Republican Senator Bob Corker telling "New York Times" about the President's strategy.

[00:10:01] "A lot of people think there is some kind of good cop, bad cop act under way but that's just not true. In several instances, he's hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were under way by tweeting things out."

So John -- it seems, you know, to paint a picture of a President who's only causing problems on a diplomatic front, but is also, you know, ramping up the anger and this mobilization to war, you know, inside North Korea.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I understand North Korea is not happy with it. You've got a president for the first time, certainly in eight years that's calling them out. And when they torture people, he's calling them out on that.


VAUSE: The coroner said there was no evidence of torture of Otto Warmbier, by the way.

THOMAS: Ok. Well, he's calling them out for -- we know that they murder their people. They've starved their people in the past. They're not good actors.

We've got a president who's willing to do that. For the first time in eight years, you've got a president who is actually managing to isolate North Korea more than we've seen before.

And we're also starting to see like the U.K. is starting to arm up. They're getting battleships ready in case they need to work with us to take down North Korea.

So it's an ugly situation, there's no doubt about it but I think Trump understands that North Korea only respects one thing at the end of the day and that's strength.

SESAY: Ok. You know, you're presupposing two things in the statement you just made. You're presupposing that the President speaking in this manner is containing North Korea. But it has not changed their actions. They continue to test missiles and carry out that nuclear test.

You're presupposing that the U.K. getting battleships ready and going to war that there is a good military option. I mean Dave -- that is what people say is the fundamental problem here and misunderstanding of the level of difficulty here -- that there is no winning here.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There is no winning. I mean is a military option a win? The fact that there is 230,000 American citizens in South Korea, 28,000 military officials in South Korea.

If we go to war, those people are going to be impacted. There's no way that there isn't missiles that are going to be headed towards Seoul. And I think that's the question when you've got a President who can't grapple with the hurricane effects in Puerto Rico and provide citizens of America like basic necessities like water.

South Korea is a lot further away. That's a whole lot of American citizens that are going to be impacted by this. And I think long term the question is like what's the end goal.

Like, Bob Corker today, Senator from Tennessee, put out a statement in the "New York Times" or told them yesterday that Donald Trump is putting us on a path to World War III. That's downright scary.

VAUSE: He said could be but the Senator --

"Vanity Fair" is also reporting U.S. diplomats are trying to open negotiations with North Korea and they fear the President is actually tweeting the United States in to a war.

Here's part of the reporting a source at the State Department. "I had this bad gut feeling that they really want conflict on this, that they are pushing hard."

That person went on to compare the rhetoric to the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq saying "I feel like this is a similar situation. They want to do something in North Korea because it's a sort of wag the dog or kill the messenger and they are kind of trying to force-fit it."

And John -- is there any evidence out there to disprove this, you know, this report, what this State Department insider is saying?

THOMAS: No. Not necessarily other than Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail which was he doesn't think we should be involved in all these foreign entanglements. He thought the Iraq war was a mistake.

So I don't think, you know -- he said we don't need to be involved in unnecessary wars. I don't think the President wants to take us to war.

At the same time, he's not going to let North Korea walk all over us and have places like Hawaii and Guam be threatened. I think it's just the President deciding he's not going to -- he's not going to kick this can down the road to the next president.

JACOBSON: It's the President who's accelerating the tensions. And here's the question that's frankly horrifying --


THOMAS: They've already been acceleration the last eight years -- the last ten years.

JACOBSON: Donald Trump is fanning the flames. I mean with these tweets that he's putting out. But the question is, is he so politically desperate that he sees this is a politically advantageous move to do something to engage when his agenda is just flat-out --


JACOBSON: -- to Congress.

SESAY: At levels that are unprecedented actually John.


SESAY: Is there an upside for the President in going to war?

THOMAS: I don't believe so. I think President Trump understands more than anybody and especially with him being against the Iraq war, that that can quickly flip on you, looking at George Bush's popularity. At first there was support. Then it quickly -- Americans don't have an appetite for an ongoing conflict.

VAUSE: Well, one war may be about to start but on Monday the Trump administration announced another one had just ended. And that's the war on coal.

Celebrations in the streets, the war is over. The EPA announcing formal steps to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which is the centerpiece of President Obama's efforts to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. Scott Pruitt, the man who heads up the EPA, doubts climate change says all the regulations just -- they're just not needed because everything is great.

Listen to this.


SCOTT PRUITT, ADMINISTRATOR, EPA: We don't recognize this as a country as much as we should that we produce these pollutants that we regulate, the Clean Air Act by over 65 percent. We're at pre-1994 levels with our CO2 levels.

I mean we've made tremendous progress as a country without government mandate, you know, without the government stepping in and saying thou shall do these things and pick winners and losers.

So I think the environmental left likes to look at the past administration as an environmental savior. If you look at the record very closely, they didn't accomplish very much.


[00:14:59] VAUSE: Dave -- let's just zoom (ph) for the headline here. Would carbon emissions actually be falling without any kind of government intervention?

JACOBSON: Absolutely not. I mean the fact is that Scott Pruitt is in the pocket of big oil and big coal. If you look at the number of coal jobs across the country there's more people who work at the fast food restaurant RVs than people who actually work in the coal industry.

I'm not saying that we want to do away with those jobs. Obviously they're there, we've got to protect them. But we have to have clean energy. We have to invest more on clean energy.

Take California, for example. We have some of the toughest environmental regulations in the country. We're the sixth largest economy in the world. We have over 500,000 clean energy jobs in the state. So you can have clean energy and good jobs at the same time.

SESAY: And John -- it's worth pointing out, quickly before you respond, that part of the motivation for the Obama administration was also the health benefits of, you know, clean air --



SESAY: That question was put to Scott Pruitt, he ducks it.



SESAY: -- will benefit here.

THOMAS: Trump -- well Trump's undoing what a lot of people think that was an overreach in executive authority; that President Obama didn't have the authority to do it.

So he's rolling that back and the estimates of what impact this would actually have on climate reduction is what -- it's like 15th of 1/100th in a hundred years of a degree. It was not about reducing --


THOMAS: Ok. But it was not a meaningful difference in the actual global temperature. It was more to show the spirit of America --

SESAY: And the health benefits?

THOMAS: It was more about the spirit of America to get other countries to get involved in this process.

SESAY: And the health benefits of having this kind of legislation in place for children and asthma and all these other breathing conditions?

THOMAS: And you may be right but I just don't think that's supposed to be done by executive order. That's something for Congress to debate.


THOMAS: And Obama went right around the Congress and tried to do it himself and now Trump is rolling that back and saying hey, Congress, if you want to do something, that's up to you.

VAUSE: Yes. Because executive orders and President Trump have been used sparingly and judiciously since the very beginning of the administration.

THOMAS: Well -- and mostly he'd been rolling back things that Obama did.



VAUSE: Travel ban -- I mean ok.

SESAY: That's true too.

VAUSE: Good to see you.

SESAY: Gentlemen -- thank you.

THOMAS: Exactly.

SESAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: And we'll take a short break.

When we come back, the owner of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys has a warning for his players who disrespect the American flag -- what he's threatening and how the U.S. President is responding to that.

SESAY: And authorities have new information about the night of the Las Vegas massacre. That is just ahead.


VAUSE: Well, Donald Trump is doing his part to continue the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

SESAY: Late Monday, he tweeted this. "A big salute to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who will bench players who disrespects our flag. Stand for anthem or sit for game."

VAUSE: Joining me now from Atlanta, former NFL defensive back, Tyrone Poole. Tyrone -- thanks for coming in. I know it's late there in Atlanta so we appreciate it.


VAUSE: There is all the (inaudible) for Jerry Jones from ESPN Chris Mortensen who spoke to the owner of the Cowboys a few hours ago. He tweeted this out, "Jones adamant the policy is in best interest of players, who need consequences to stand up to peer pressure."

[00:20:05] So how is this decision by Jones in the best interest of the players and can he do it? Does he have the authority to bench players in the first place? POOLE: Well, again he is the owner but at the same time, players I believe have a right amongst themselves to display their displeasure or their likes about certain things. And I think you start to divide and really kind of go into excessive (ph) jeopardy when you start to take away individuals' rights to express themselves.

VAUSE: You know, the NFL isn't really talking about the stand taken by Jerry Jones. But the "Washington Post" has reported that prompted a response Monday by DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players' Association who said that he and the players have been assured last Tuesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New York Giants co-owner John Mara that they would respect the constitutional rights of our members without retribution.

Will the NFL have a confrontation with Jones over this? Or will they just let him sort of quietly do what he's doing?

POOLE: Well, I think it's not going to go away. I'll put it to you like that. It's not going to go away.

This is an issue that stems way beyond NFL football. It actually revolves around life itself. Even if you want to go back into the 80s and I'm talking about demonstration for injustice and equality. There was a certain rap group back in the 80s and they were talking about issues that they were dealing with in their neighborhoods and they used music to actually let the world know what was going wrong.

So I think here in the NFL guys have a platform to where they can show their displeasure to let the world know what is still happening and needs to be corrected.

So I don't think it's going to go away. But I do think we need to form some type of alliance to where everyone understands what each other is feeling. And until we do that, then it's not going to go away quietly.

VAUSE: Do you get a sense that there's not a lot of listening to both sides here going on?

POOLE: Well, again, unless you spend time with a person, if I live on the east side and you live on the west side and it's easy for someone who is on the west side to say what their opinion is about the east side.

But until you come and spend time with me, then I feel like you have an opportunity to understand my frustrations. As vice versa -- as I go and live on the west side, I gain opportunity to see how your frustrations call you to be who you are.

VAUSE: Yes. If you're not listening, if you're not talking then you don't know really what's going on.

So a day after Vice President Mike Pence walked out of the 49ers-Colts game in Indianapolis, the Trump campaign sent out a fundraising e- mail, there it is, praising the action taken by Pence adding "Please make a contribution of at least $5 to show your support and our team will send you an 'I Stand for the Flag' sticker."

If someone wasn't convinced that the walk-out by Pence was not a political stunt, does this e-mail sort of remove all doubt?

POOLE: Well, I think, again my opinion. I look at the word "premeditated". Premeditated -- basically you're doing something that you already know was going to happen. And players have been kneeling from the beginning of the season, all the way back to Colin Kaepernick. So you knew that this was going to happen.

So me, personally, I think it was a publicity stunt to continue to draw attention to an issue that basically I think is secondary to a lot of other issues that are going on in this country and around the world. So for me, I say it was premeditated.

VAUSE: Yes. It -- you know, was a principal issue that possibly, you know, Mike Pence shouldn't have gone if he can get a guarantee that they would not stand and that will be done. But that's not clearly what happened.

But Tyrone -- good to see you. Thank you so much.

POOLE: Yes. Thank you.

SESAY: All right. Switching gears now. And we're learning new details about the gunman behind last week's deadly massacre in Las Vegas -- 58 people were killed and more than 500 wounded.

Authorities initially said a security guard interrupted the shooter as he opened fire on the crowd. But now, now they're saying this.


[00:24:54] SHERIFF JOSEPH LOMBARDO, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: He was injured prior to the mass volley of shooting.

What we have learned is Mr. Campos was encountered by the suspect prior to his shooting to the outside world.


SESAY: Well, authorities can't point to a specific event in the gunman's life as a motive but they say he indeed carried out a purposeful plan to take lives.

CNN's Kyung Lah tells us about a deposition that could give us some insight into this man.


KYUN LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Before the gunman unleashed his murderous assault on an innocent concert crowd, he called himself the biggest video poker player in the world, gambling up to a million dollars in a single night, overnight, sleeping during the day, prescribed valium for anxiousness. These are the killer's own words as he testified in 2013 in this lawsuit against the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas where he slipped in the walkway.

He says he moved from Las Vegas casino to casino, at one point staying maybe upwards of three weeks out of a month. A high-roller, his hotel stays were comped 95 percent of the time, that's ranged from $100 to $1,350 each time I pushed the button.

When he says on a given night he'll bet a million dollars, an attorney replied, that's a lot of money. "No, it's not".

He called video poker a game of discipline, at times appearing condescending and sarcastic as he explains to his attorney why he stays sober while gambling. "At the stakes I play, you want to have all your wits about you."

The gunman's home in Mesquite, Nevada suggests an upper middle class retired life. For easy access to a doctor, he paid a yearly retainer fee to Nevada internet Dr. Steven Winkler (ph). He says Winkler prescribed him valium. Why, it's for anxiousness. Rage, aggressiveness and irritability are among the possible side effects of taking valium, according to the manufacturer of the drug.

The "Las Vegas Review Journal" reported that Dr. Winkler prescribed him valium in June of this year. CNN could not independently confirm that information.

Despite all the claims about his high-rolling ways, he testified on the day he fell in the Cosmopolitan he wore his typical clothing saying "I always wear black Nike sweat pants that are nylon or polyester." On his feet, black flip-flops that he wore 98 percent of the time.

"Life was better before the economic meltdown," he testified saying Vegas casinos comped less and less, meaning he visited Sin City less.

"What happened to the economy in 2007", he said, "it tanked. Las Vegas went into the gutter with a lot of other things. They quit giving away freebies. It just wasn't coming out here as often."

Kyung Lah, CNN -- Las Vegas.


VAUSE: Well, coming up here on NEWSROOM L.A. with Catalonia on the verge of declaring independence from Spain, the standoff with Madrid is reaching a tipping point.



VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:


SESAY: Let's dig a little deeper for more on this. I'm joined by Dominic Thomas. He's the chair of the department of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA and a friend of the show.

Dom, good to see you. We wait with bated breath to hear what Mr. Puigdemont was saying in the regional parliament and I guess my question is this, there has been much heavy talk and threats from Madrid of the warnings and what could happen if he makes this move.

But is this past the point of no return?

Will anything less than independence satisfy the separatists, if you will?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH & FRANCOPHONE STUDIES, UCLA, CALIFORNIA: It's very hard to say. I think judged by the separatists, absolutely not. And so Puigdemont finds himself at this Shakespearean word, to declare or not to declare.

The separatists unambiguously want this. And as far as he's concerned, the vote, about 8-10 days ago, gave him an overwhelming yes in the referendum.

But of course that referendum was not a referendum, from the point at which the Spanish state declared it illegal and unconstitutional, threatened to seize ballots, send in the police, which they did, people did not turn up at the polls nor in sufficient numbers for the yes vote but certainly for the no.

And then we saw this past weekend was a tremendous show from other camp essentially in favor of Spanish unity, bringing out some big hitters to speak at this particular event.

SESAY: I think it's remarkable because the polling ahead of the referendum, which wasn't a referendum, if you will, was that between 40 percent and 45 percent of folks in that region who wanted to plead.

So the question has been did Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, overplay his hand and almost strengthen Puigdemont's hand in the way he kind of launched in here?

THOMAS: Certainly in terms of the international perception and also -- and this is part of the problem with this referendum -- is that some of the motivation, of course, is that there are pure hard-core separatists, that there are a lot of people who are supporting the referendum in much the same way that people supported the Brexit referendum because of issues, because of certain conditions that they want, because of a perception that is being manipulated by the pro- referendum folks that also a general perception that Madrid is heavy- handed, that it has curtailed the power of the region over time and which, of course, by sending in the forces and law and so on and so forth. Made it particularly complicated for them and there was no reason really for Rajoy to do this. All he had to do was to declare it illegal and unconstitutional and

that would've enough. And so of course, it has motivated people. But I think that what we saw this weekend with this pro-unity march if that it is by no means a foregone conclusion and all statistics show that Puigdemont does not have a majority to policy.

It would be disingenuous for him to declare independence. It would be a manipulation of the political condition for him to do this.

SESAY: The E.U. has sat on the sidelines; France and Germany made it very clear that they would not recognize the independence of Catalonia. Obviously they're worried about signals being sent and how they could embolden other separatist groups or September blocs in Eastern and Central Europe.

But isn't the E.U. abrogating its responsibility at the very time it's needed most, where you have two sides that basically are veering toward a cliff and there's nobody to step in?

THOMAS: . Right. There's no one to step in and also for the region of Catalonia, this is potentially highly problematic if not to say disastrous. Businesses have already threatened to leave; there is, of course, the concern that if they were to leave, as France said, it would not, first of all, be recognized.

But if it did go through they would be out of the European Union, out of the freedom of circulation movement --


SESAY: Something that the euro, all of that --

THOMAS: -- euro, all these things. You can't travel, you can't work abroad and so on and that's something that there would be, I don't think, overwhelming support for, even in the region.

Then the European Union, of course, the total refusal, the French government spoke out today, said it would not recognize it, this fear of micronationalism, this fear of secession like Brexit and so on is, of course, important.

But the other issue, of course, is that the European Union, especially Rajoy's allies within the E.U. -- he is a member of the EPP or his party is, the European People's Party; Angela Merkel is a close ally.

And they of course supported the E.U. Commission president, Jean- Claude Juncker, when he ran for this.

So they held off in this particular situation. And there is a sort of zero tolerance for secession or for Brexit-like movements within Europe right now.

SESAY: Dom, I know we're going to caught this conversation in the hours ahead. We do want to zero in on the economic cost here (INAUDIBLE) next hour. But thank you so much. Thank you. VAUSE: Up next here, 1,000 homes, hotels and businesses all reduced to ashes as wildfires (INAUDIBLE) California's wine country. There very latest in just a moment.




SESAY: Hello, everyone.

Deadly wildfires engulfing large areas of California and the governor has declared a state of emergency with major fires burning across eight counties, from Orange County in the south to the famous Napa Wine country in the north.

VAUSE: In Napa, the flames are moving so quickly many there are fleeing their homes without enough time to grab a change of clothes. Some officials say more than 100 people have treated in hospital for fire-related injuries.

Two hospitals are being forced to evacuate. Authorities say 10 people have died so far and while that number is expected to continue to rise, until these fires are brought under control and that could take some time, given some very difficult weather conditions. It is so dry out there right now, firefighters cannot keep the flames from --


SESAY: Well, let's get straight to Mike Mueller (ph), battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. He's in Anaheim Hills in Orange County, south of Los Angeles.

Thank you so much for joining us at a time that is extremely busy for you. Let me ask you first, can you bring us up to speed on the number of fires that are burning really good now and where things stand with containment efforts?

MIKE MUELLER (PH), BATTALION CHIEF, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY AND FIRE PROTECTION: Right now in (INAUDIBLE) and you alluded to -- we have over 14 large fires that are burning throughout the state. That's not including smaller fires that crews are responding to as we speak.

It's actually encompassing eight counties right now. The weather, as you mentioned, is playing a major factor. We are seeing unprecedented fire conditions within 12-24 hours, explosive fire growth.

SESAY: To stay with the issue of weather conditions, I know that high winds pose a problem when these fires broke out. I mean what are conditions like now?

Are they on firefighters' side?

MUELLER: Well, in the northern half of the state, up near the Wine Country, as you mentioned, right now the winds aren't playing as much of a factors as they did overnight last night, where we saw that devastating, the fire conditions.

But what we are seeing is we still have the low humidity and the higher temperatures up in the northern portion of the state. Now in Southern California, where the Canyon 2 fire is, now we're seeing winds, they are slowly dying down. But we are still in what we call red flag fire conditions, meaning that some of the humidity levels are in single digits, being that there's still fire growth and crews have a lot of work to do.

SESAY: They certainly do. Sadly, these fires have claimed the lives of at least 10 people. We know that there have been significant numbers injured. You heard me say that expectations are that that number will rise in terms of those affected by this physically.

Has everyone in the areas that are under threat, that are in the midst of fires, has everyone been evacuated out of harm's way?

MUELLER: We have. We issued evacuation warnings immediately. You have to remember, our priority is his life and property and the most important part is protecting that public and getting people out.

When you have these types of fire conditions, when we issue an evacuation warning that fire has come up on some of these neighborhoods so quick and, unfortunately -- and, again, our thoughts and prayers with families, loved ones, that were either injured or unfortunately passed during these incidents, is that that fire came upon some of these communities so quick that they didn't have an opportunity -- and that's why we always stress in California, we don't have a fire season; it is year-round and that day should be prepared.

But, unfortunately, like you said, unprecedented weather and fire conditions really pushing on these communities with explosive growth.

SESAY: It's a tough time for so many people. Mike Mueller (ph), thank you for taking time out to speak to us, wishing you the very best, you and all your men as you guys battles to get this under control, thank you.

MUELLER: Thank you.

VAUSE: It seemed like a good idea at the time but now McDonald's is apologizing to fans of the Cartoon Network show "Rick & Morty" after a dipping sauce fiasco. On the show, the mad scientist talks about coming back in time because he wants a Szechuan sauce, which the fast food chain released back in 1998 for the Disney movie, "Mulan."

That was 1998?

McDonald's announced a one-day only release of the sauce at special locations in response to that episode.

SESAY: Well, this is what happened next. "Rick & Morty" fans were outraged when they ran out. One reportedly threw McNuggets at an employee, who threw the McNuggets. The -- (CROSSTALK)

SESAY: -- the fast food chain now said it will have a larger rollout this winter. TimeWarner is the parent company of both the Cartoon Network and CNN International, we just want to make that clear.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE), this is amazing. What this shows is that --

SESAY: I give up.

VAUSE: -- there are a lot of people out there who have a lot of time on their hands.


VAUSE: -- who don't have a lot of good things to do.

SESAY: I guess they could get their place in line now, in advance?

VAUSE: Apparently, you can find the recipe on the Internet, just like the recipe for the Big Macs, for the sauce on the --

SESAY: For the -- what's it, the secret sauce?

VAUSE: The secret sauce, you can --


We'll talk about that in the break. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Please follow us on Twitter --


VAUSE: Isha responds to every tweet personally. She'll be up until 4:00 in the morning. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT."

SESAY: We'll be back at the top of the hour with more news from around the world. You're watching CNN.