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At Least 23 Dead, 280 Plus Reported Missing in California Wildfires; Trump to Begin Dismantling Obamacare With Executive Order; NYPD Investigating Weinstein Accusers' Claims; Ben Carson Insists HUD Not Abandoning Puerto Rico. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 12, 2017 - 10:30   ET



[10:32:43] HARLOW: Wildfires in northern California are spreading. The death toll is rising, 23 now dead, thousands of firefighters are struggling to contain the disaster. Nearly 300 people are also reported missing. Thousands have been forced to flee their homes. Homes that may not be there when they return.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And the wind is predicted to get even worse today.

CNN's Ryan Young in Santa Rosa, California, for us with the very latest.

What's the situation now, Ryan? Oh, my gosh, look at that truck right in front of you.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's unbelievable, John and Poppy. We've been able to confirm that nearly 8,000 firefighters are fighting this fire. Well, I should say fires, and that is showing you just how hard they're working to try to knock this out and it's still creating issues.

Look, the sun is just starting to rise here in beautiful California. You can see it right over there here. But when you look at that direction, you also see just the destruction that's been left behind, and we have just been -- it's just breathtaking to see all of this and you think about the 20,000 people who have evacuated.

We also saw the sheriff's department taking to the streets and knocking on doors and using the bullhorns to try to make sure that, look, get out of your house, get out of the area. Every time they say that, you realize how dangerous this can be because these fires skipped pretty fast and especially when they're in the mountainous terrain.

Sometimes you see the fire up high then all of a sudden it goes down low. And when you come up this direction, you look at the driveways and look back at this direction one thing that we've been reminded over and over, no one has been able to come through here and just survey some of these houses. There could be more victims here. You talk about the 23 people that have died, but then you have nearly 300 people missing. And then you think about cell phone communication. What they're

hoping is some people ran away and they will end up at one of those shelters and they'll be able to say, look, I've been -- haven't been able to get in contact with anybody because cell phone service has been spotty all over the area. Cell phone towers have been affected.

But this what is people have been dealing with because look, even they are concerned about their neighbors. It's going to be another tough day. More winds and hopefully firefighters will get a chance to knock this down.

Guys, back to you.

BERMAN: You know, Ryan, just a reminder, this moonscape behind you, it's not some kind of movie set. These are people's homes.

HARLOW: In northern California.

BERMAN: People's homes, their lives uprooted. So much damage there.

Ryan, thanks so much.

All right. Within the flex few minutes, President Trump will literally take the Obamacare repeal and replace efforts into his own hands. He will sign an executive order loosening some rules on health insurance.

[10:35:03] CNN's MJ Lee joins us with all the details here. This is interesting.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: This is interesting. This is essentially as you said the president using the power of the presidency to weaken Obamacare. Of course he has spent the last nine month trying to get Congress to do this and Congress was not successful. Now essentially what this executive order would do, it would allow small businesses to band together to buy these so-called association health plans. Presumably they would be cheaper but they would also be skimpier plans because these plans would not be subjected to all of the Obamacare regulations.

And the people who -- employers and people who like the executive order, they would essentially say that this is all about increased flexibility. That they don't like the burdens and regulations, they don't like the high costs that often are associated with some of these Obamacare plans, and, you know, that healthy and younger people don't necessarily have to buy into these more expensive and comprehensive plans.

But there are a lot of concerns associated with this executive order as well. Essentially when you're taking out healthier and younger people out of the bigger pool the price goes up for older people and sicker people. And the other concern -- the major concern, too, is that this would sort of open the floodgates for many, many employers to offer plans that don't cover as much.

HARLOW: Right. LEE: And that that's not good for people who might be sicker.

HARLOW: What about if these are businesses across state lines? And I don't know if we know this yet but in all different states banning together, you could essentially buy insurance in a state that has the least regulation on policies even if you're in a state that is more highly regulated.

LEE: Right. And to your point, you know, exactly how and when this executive order will be implemented is still unclear, but the fundamentals of wanting more flexibility for states to -- the state regulations do not apply to these plans, this is something that a lot of conservative Republicans have been vouching for, for many, many months and years, but as we saw again, over the, you know, first part of President Trump's presidency, this is not something that got enough sort of force and consensus on Capitol Hill for Republicans to act on this.

I think President Trump is frustrated that he has not been able to get Republicans to take action and that is why he's trying to show that he can take matters into his own hands and sign these executive orders.

HARLOW: OK. MJ Lee, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Ahead for us, more women coming forward accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Of course there are the rape allegations as well. Now the NYPD wants to find some of these unidentified victims who have been reported and talk to them about what happened.


[10:41:42] BERMAN: All right. Just in to CNN, the New York Police Department says it is now investigating two separate incidents involving Harvey Weinstein. This as new accusers are now being added to a growing list of women speaking out against Weinstein. The allegations range from sexual harassment to rape.

HARLOW: Joining us now, our senior media correspondent Brian Stelter. Also with us Jeffrey Toobin, our chief legal analyst.

Brian, to you, just the latest reporting on the NYPD. They want to talk to some of the folks, frankly the media, Ronan Farrow, talked to some of these identified women.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right. NYPD wants to speak with Farrow as part of this investigation. Our colleague Brynn --

BERMAN: Brynn Gingras.

STELTER: What am I doing here? She says the Special Victims Unit of the NYPD that is doing this probe, this is common in a case like this if they hear that there was a rape allegation, in this case 2004, on the record, a woman who said it happened in New York City, they want to talk to that woman, they want to talk to Farrow, they may want to talk to others to try to corroborate it and see if they can bring a case.

Now if there are other incidents they can also look into they will do that as well. This is common for the NYPD, or other police departments, but it's notable that because there is no statute of limitations for a rape allegation in New York City, Weinstein could be in legal jeopardy.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, our legal analyst, what about that? No statute of limitations on sex cases in New York state. We have this long list of people on the record, you know, issuing these charges against Harvey Weinstein. How much trouble is he in?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: He's in a great deal of trouble, not least because Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, has been appropriately embarrassed by his failure to investigate or his failure to charge Weinstein and to investigate him for the many rumored offenses that existed even before "The New Yorker" and "New York Times" stories.

In thinking about the Vance investigations, I think it's important to remember, something our viewers may remember, which was several years ago, Dominique Strauss Khan, the French political figure, was arrested and charged in Manhattan with a sexual assault in a hotel in midtown Manhattan. And after further investigation, the Vance office had to drop those -- that case because the evidence at least in his view fell apart.

I think this has made him unduly cautious in bringing a high-profile case like that and now in light of this tremendous embarrassment of the fact that there appears to have been a serial rapist, i.e., Harvey Weinstein, roaming lower Manhattan, I think he may now be trying to make up for the next embarrassment to his office.

HARLOW: Jeffrey, let me ask you this. I've had a hard time understanding this. You have a tape from 2015, that while perhaps not criminal, as Cy Vance says, it still gives you incredible concern about a man with such authority and power using it to exert control over a woman. OK. He said court of public opinion doesn't matter, court of law matters, we couldn't pursue this, we didn't have enough evidence.

However, couldn't he have said to his team, there may be something here, use all of your -- a lot of your power to look into this, look into this, are there other women, et cetera? It doesn't appear from what he said that he did that. Should he have?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. I mean, that's the real problem. I mean, there is certainly a defensible case to be made that the specific allegation in that case from the tape.

[10:45:06] And, you know, I don't want to get too graphic here, but the admission on the tape was simply of an unconsented to touching, not a rape, which would only have been a misdemeanor, there may have been other problems with the case. It's defensible that that case was not brought.

However, when there is that much smoke.

HARLOW: Right.

TOOBIN: And so many potential accusers, to simply drop the investigation because one case did not pan out, I think that's the real basis for criticism of the New York District Attorney's Office and now, with this incredible abundance of possible cases and the absence of a statute of limitations, that's why I think Harvey Weinstein is in enormous trouble from a criminal perspective as well.

BERMAN: Brian Stelter, the Weinstein Company, what's going on this morning? And it's still named but not for long the Weinstein Company.

STELTER: That's right. They're going to change their name and try to wipe away the stain. That's not going to be possible, it's going to take a lot more than that. You know, Weinstein's name has already been taken off the shows like "Project Runway" that the company produces. But look, inside the company there is a state of shock and some panic about the investigations that are ongoing. There's an internal investigation into who knew what, when.

There's talk about a possible leadership shakeup once again. It's only been four days since Weinstein was forced out. Who knows who else will be leaving the company? And who knows if this company can survive in its present shape?

You know, Harvey Weinstein was the Weinstein Company. It's known for making these Oscar-winning films and things like that. They have some more films in the pipeline but this weekend there's going to be a meeting in L.A. to talk about revoking his membership in the Academy. I even wonder if they'll try to take away his Oscars.

BERMAN: It'd be hard to do. Again, we talk about given Roman Polanski, you know, is an Oscar winner.

STELTER: Right. If you do it to Weinstein who else is affected?

HARLOW: These women need justice. Right? That's also the peripheral.

BERMAN: Right.

STELTER: That's right.

BERMAN: All right. Great to have you. Jeffrey Toobin, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

BERMAN: New this morning, President Trump going after Puerto Rico, suggesting that FEMA might not be on the island forever.

HARLOW: But he's putting one of his Cabinet members in a predicament and tricky spot on Capitol Hill.

Joe Johns is at the White House with more. Good morning. JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy.

That would be Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on the hot seat on the issue of the president's tweet this morning, suggesting that the United States government, the federal government, won't be there forever for Puerto Rico. FEMA, the military, the first responders.

So Ben Carson, under questioning on Capitol Hill today by Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters about the president's tweets. Mr. Carson seeking to reassure the committee this morning that, in fact, the federal government is not going to abandon Puerto Rico. Listen.


BEN CARSON, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: I have no intention of abandoning Puerto Rico. They're a very important part of who we are.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: So you don't agree with the president? He tweeted electric and all infrastructure was a disaster before the hurricanes. And sought to shame the territory for its own plight. Do you share that opinion?

CARSON: I think that our job is to make sure that we take care of the disaster that has occurred.


JOHNS: Important to say this back and forth on the Capitol Hill and the president's tweets come on a day when the House of Representatives is set to vote on an enormous aid package that includes additional FEMA money for Puerto Rico and a handful of House conservatives are balking on voting for that, specifically because it also contains money for flood insurance that isn't paid for.

So the question, of course, is how that vote is going to go on Capitol Hill. Ben Carson on the hot seat once again. Back to you.

HARLOW: Joe Johns at the White House, thank you for that. We appreciate it.

The controversy, the back and forth over kneeling or standing during the national anthem has certainly been causing a lot of talk and division in this country but now it's bringing the players and the owners together. More on that next.


[10:53:22] BERMAN: NFL players will attend next week's owners meeting to discuss the ongoing national anthem controversy.

HARLOW: Coy Wire has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." New development.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It is. Good morning, Poppy and John. This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F- 150.

Yesterday it was insinuated and tweeted that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell demands that players stand during the national anthem. That wasn't true. The commissioner clarified.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: There has been no policy change. What we've had is unprecedented dialog over the last year with our players, our owners, with community leaders, law enforcement, and what we plan to do is have a very in-depth discussion with our players and our owners next week and make sure we truly understand the issues and also understand the approach that we want to take together with the players.


WIRE: Now as a former player, I have seen up close and personal how contentious the relationship between the league and the union can be, so the owners inviting executives from the NFLPA and players themselves to join them at their annual league meeting in New York City next week is quite profound.

Let's talk some baseball. Defending AL champions Indians had the Yankees against the ropes. They won the first two games of the series but the Yankees heeded the words of their Hall of Famer Yogi Berra. It ain't over until it's over.

A win-or-go-home game five last night in Cleveland. And someone needed to step up. How about Didi Gregorius? The guy who can do it all. He's from the Netherlands, he speaks five languages, an artist who paints on road trips. Well, he hits homeruns, too. A solo shot in the first inning and then in the third, he hit another homerun. Scoring two runs for the Yanks. He only had one hit in 13 at-bats this entire series coming into the game.

[10:55:05] So start spreading the news, Didi has some fight in him and so do the Yankees. They're advancing to the ALCS with a 5-2 win.


DIDI GREGORIUS, YANKEES SHORTSTOP: For me it's just -- you know, I always believed in myself. There are always people that are going to doubt you, people are going to do everything. But at the end it's up to you however hard you want to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So with the emotions, I mean, these guys had my back and they fought, and fought and again they beat a really, really good team.


WIRE: Yankees can't celebrate too long. They -- the series with the Houston Astros, that starts tomorrow already, and that's in Houston. We have another elimination game coming up tonight on our sister station TBS. It's at 8:08 Eastern, defending World Series champion Cubs against the Nationals in the nation's capital. Who wants it? John? Poppy? I've got to see this one.

HARLOW: I'm just for Wolf on this one, so the Nationals.

BERMAN: You're for Wolf?

HARLOW: I'm just not -- you know, I'm not -- I don't have a side on this one. If it's not the Twins I don't care.

BERMAN: And I think we can all agree that America wants Houston to win not just because it's Houston, but it's not the Yankees.

HARLOW: There you go.


BERMAN: Thanks, Coy.

HARLOW: Coy, thank you.

WIRE: You're welcome.

HARLOW: All right. Minutes from now we are set to hear from the president at the White House. He is signing an executive order on health care, but will he explain what he meant in those statements this morning about Puerto Rico? Stay with us.