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Thousands Evacuated from Santa Rose as 20 Wildfires Scorch California; Trump Boasts about Cutting Obamacare Subsidies; Schumer: Trump Unraveling Obama Legacy; Joshua Boyles Describes Family's' Captivity; Academy Considers Stripping Oscar from Weinstein as D.A. Considers Charges; Trump Decertifies Iran Nuclear Deal; North Korea Renews Threat to Attack Guam; Considers Charges; Colorful Interior Secretary Under Scrutiny for Flights; EPA Officials Investigating Puerto Rico Water from Waste Site. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired October 14, 2017 - 13:00   ET



[13:00:17] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again, everyone. And thank you so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We're continuing to follow breaking news out of California. Right now, several thousand people are being evacuated in Santa Rosa, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. CNN affiliate, KGO, captured video out of Sonoma County. You see it right there. Under the smoke is a grid of all the streets that represents people in terms of businesses and residences, giving firefighters a scope of just who they need to potentially rescue or what places need to evacuate. As firefighters try to figure out their next move, more than 20 million people are under a dangerous red flag fire warning. Right now, at least 20 active wildfires are scorching the state. So far, 36 people are dead and more than 200 others remain unaccounted for.

CNN national correspondent, Miguel Marquez, is in Santa Rosa.

Miguel, thousands are being asked to evacuate Santa Rose. Describe the scene there?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are at that location where those people are now evacuating. This is in the Oakmont area in eastern Santa Rosa. The winds have been what firefighters describe as squirrely, moving one direction, then another.

I want to show you what's happening out in front. There are several different ridge lines here, and firefighters -- you can see the helicopters are dropping in here to fill up and drop water, literally, within -- it looks within a few hundred yards of where they're actually picking up the water. This is a very close-in fight that they have going on right here now. They are pouring everything into it.

Look over to the right here, how heavy that black smoke is. That's dense forest that's now blowing. The wind shifted overnight, blowing to the north, and now it's blowing toward the south, and it's blowing toward communities not only here in Santa Rosa, but the city of Sonoma itself. There's lots of evacuations up and down this valley here.

This is Highway 12, a well-known highway here. And this is where they hope to hold the line here. The neighborhoods back in there are at most risk now. This fire just will not quit, but firefighters pouring everything on it, from air, land. And lots of bulldozers in this area as well right now -- Fredericka?

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. Miguel, when we hear about these evacuations, and we've seen images from last night, walls of flames that even firefighters were going through, how are these evacuations facilitated, how do people do this?

MARQUEZ: They're pretty sophisticated and getting better at it. They have an alert system you can sign up for your phone. I signed up for it when I came up here. I got calls all night long because I called up for all over the area, so I got calls all night long about different evacuations, preparatory evacuations, mandatory evacuations. This is one of the areas. This is probably one of the hottest area right now in terms of fire, where they're hitting it hard. Mandatory evacuations went into effect here. Where you saw the video, that police officer going through several days ago, that's a couple miles from here. That's the Mark West neighborhood here. That place was absolutely decimated by this fire. That's what they're hoping to avoid today -- Fredericka?

WHITFIELD: Miguel Marquez keep us posted. Dire situation there. We're wishing the best for everyone involved, firefighters, residents, everyone.

Today, President Trump boasting about his latest effort to dismantle Obamacare by cutting billions of dollars meant to help poor Americans buy insurance. He's claiming his controversial decision to end subsidies that help six million low-income Americans pay for health insurance will actually help make health care more affordable and more available. That's his claim. Trump tweeting this morning, "Very proud of my executive order, which will allow greatly expanded access and far lower costs for health care. Millions of people benefit."

CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now live at the White House.

Ryan, what is the president hoping to accomplish by ending these subsidies?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, there's two big moves the president made on health care over the last couple days. Ending the subsidies was one thing, but the executive order was another. The executive order allows people to buy health insurance across state lines, which was something that was not available under the Affordable Care Act. He believes that's a political win for him.

In terms of ending the subsidies, there's a political and strategic move the president is employing here. The political one being a sign to his supporters that he's working to repeal and replace Obamacare, despite the repeated failure in the Congress, and the strategic one, move, is designed to pressure those members of Congress to do something as it relates to health care.

Yesterday, on the South Lawn, the president arguing that this also is a financial decision because he believes the subsidies are nothing more than a bailout for health care companies. Take a listen to what he had to say.


[13:05:19] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That money was a subsidy and, almost, you could say a payoff to insurance companies. And what we have to do is come up with great health care. That's what I did partially yesterday. That's going to cover a big segment. Now for the rest, we have to come up with great, whether it's going to be block grants or something else. We just about have the votes. Now if the Democrats were smart, they would come and negotiate something where people could come and get the kind of health care that they deserve.


NOBLES: You can hear the president talking about that strategy in the sound byte right there. But the problem is, with his strategy, at least, according to his critics, is it has real-world consequences. By ending this subsidy, there's a good chance that the premiums for many low-income Americans could skyrocket because the insurance companies will not be able to afford to write packages with lower premiums. Democrats are warning, even though you can't come up with a deal, you can't just pull these subsidies without some sort of a companion plan to put in its place. At this point, Fredricka, the Republicans and the president do not have that plan to back up this decision.

WHITFIELD: Right. Critics laying out there may be lower prices, that's the president's goal, but then there would be fewer benefits to those policies, and weaker government protections, which ultimately, according to critics, does not put a lot of Americans in a better situation.

All right, Ryan Nobles, thank you so much, at the White House.

Minority leader, Chuck Schumer, taking aim at the president for targeting Obama's legacy, and questioning the president's leadership. The Democratic leader tweeting this, "The president of the United States' modus operandi, failure to lead, throws destructive bones to his base, then tells Congress to fix it, Iran, health care, Puerto Rico."

Joining me now to discuss this is CNN political analyst, Patrick Healy, who is also "The New York Times" deputy culture editor. Also with me Tim Naftali, a CNN presidential historian, and former director of the Nixon Presidential Library.

Good to see both of you.

WHITFIELD: Patrick, you first.

Chuck Schumer, does he have a point?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. This is a strong argument from the Democrats. They can look at a record, right now, that President Trump has failed to assemble in terms of legislative accomplishments. Every time the president sort of sets the goals and agendas, whether it's repeal and replace Obamacare, draw red lines with North Korea, sort of suggesting that the Iran deal -- at least he did during the campaign -- is going to be ripped up. He's not able to move Congress in the direction he wants. Now this latest, with Obamacare, you know, the moves he's making are not just going to bother Democrats, but their moderate Republicans, like Susan Collins in Maine, who's going to look at this and say these subsidies he's saying are payoffs to the insurance companies are subsidies that benefit six million Americans. They're not just simply going into the pockets of insurance companies. They have real-world effects for millions of Americans.

WHITFIELD: And potentially, it may impact many of his supporters, his base, that he's speaking to in terms of trying to carry through on his campaign promise.

Tim, you know, generally, you know, a president strives to have a legacy that is built on legislative accomplishments, their response to national crisis, et cetera. Thus far, this president has been focused on executive orders, largely undoing something that his predecessor managed to dot his legacy. What will history reflect, thus far, on President Trump?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I -- I don't want to predict what my colleagues in 50, 60 years are going to say. But just look at the difficulties that the Republicans in Congress and the president have been having in governing. They've been very good at saying what they don't want to do. They have given a list to Americans. They've over sold, if you will, a list of horrible things that President Obama did, and promised something better. They never really explained what, but they promised something better. What President Trump has found in office is that he can't actually keep the policy promises he made. So what he's doing is sloganeering. He's attacking Obamacare but promising Americans still to have access to health care, and pre-existing conditions to be covered. And Americans to not have -- not leave 25 million Americans without health care. How do you do that? The Republican Congress never came up with a plan to do that. The president can't do it either. So he's trying to force, by playing chicken with the Democrats, he's trying to force Congress to solve a problem that he's creating. H's setting up -- it's his strategic approach, create a crisis, then force people who don't agree with you to do something on behalf of the American people so you can take credit for it. That has been his project all along. And he continues to do that. Whether he succeeds or not, and that's what historians will be talking about in the future, we don't know, we'll have to wait and see.

[13:10:38] WHITFIELD: The sloganeering, Patrick, that Tim is talking about, we saw it on the campaign trail, it's a continuation during his presidency. At what point, in your view, if members of Congress are already seeing right through it, at what point might his base see through it, and the president finds himself standing alone?


HEALY: Sure. We all remember President Trump's comments when he was a candidate, he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and people wouldn't leave his side. I think if, in health insurance markets become destabilized, and if in rural states or in red states you're seeing low income and middle-class Americans who benefited from some of these subsidies, who are seeing their own premiums go up, if you're starting to see a pocketbook hit, you may have a consequence. What President Trump has bet on, Fred, is that his belief in himself and his ability from the bully pulpit, through his tweets to his base, to coral people and keep them on his side, and see it as an us-against-them dynamic, with the Democrats, with the media, with liberals. At the end of the day, there's still a sense for a lot of voters that we have to stand with this guy, we have to protect this guy, he's on our side.

WHITFIELD: The president is betting if that all falls apart, then people will blame his predecessor, Obama, Tim, but is the reality check that the person to blame will be the president for undermining the structures?

NAFTALI: In 1969, Richard Nixon had an opportunity to pull out of Vietnam. He decided to double down and it became his war. At a certain point, health care will be Trumpcare. We won't be talking about Obamacare any more. The catastrophe in the exchange markets will be a product of decisions made by the Trump White House. He doesn't want that to happen, but it may be inevitable. His strategy may backfire big time in 2018.

WHITFIELD: Tim, Patrick, thanks to both of you. Good to see you. Appreciate it.

HEALY: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: New details about a family held against their will by the Taliban, and held for five years. Hear what Joshua Boyle says happened to his family. A live report straight ahead.

Plus, could Harvey Weinstein have an Oscar taken away? A meeting is underway at this hour that could decide about membership and other things about the Academy of Arts and Sciences. We'll be right back.


[13:17:34] WHITFIELD: We're getting new video now of a family arriving after five years held hostage by a terror group affiliated with the Taliban. Joshua Boyle, a Canadian, with his wife and their three children, all born in captivity, arrived safely in Canada last night. Boyle told reporters in Toronto his kidnappers authorized the killing of one of his children and raped his wife.

CNN international correspondent, Paula Newton, joins me now. Paula, what more are we learning about them?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Horrendous details, aren't they, Fred? It's incredible that Joshua Boyle told his parents, from the get go, that he had to them that he wanted to talk about this, he wanted to make it clear that even though they alluded and blatantly talked about how they were being treated in the proof-of-life videos that were released, it didn't come close to describing the horror.

Take a listen to Joshua Boyle as he touched down in Canada last night.

JOSHUA BOYLE, HELD WITH HIS FAMILY AS HOSTAGES: The stupidity and evil of the Haqqani networks, kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife, engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban- controlled regions of Afghanistan, was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter.


NEWTON: "The murder of my infant daughter." I mean, he calls her a martyr.

The reason -- his parents told me before they came back to Canada, they admitted to at least one forced abortion that they had in captivity. Again, the details, just incredible, just in terms of them having the composure to come out and talk about it at this point.

I have to say, Fred, his wife, American, Caitlin Coleman, has not spoken out at all. And Joshua's parents have confirmed to me she's said so little in the last few weeks, and even since she's been rescued. A long road ahead. But they are in a small town just outside of Ottawa here. They're safe with their family, trying to catch up on some sleep now, Fred. We expect to hear more from them in the coming days.

[13:19:41] WHITFIELD: Gosh, all of it sounds so traumatizing.

Paula Newton, thank you.

Disgraced producer, Harvey Weinstein, could be stripped of his Oscar. Plus, could the film mogul face criminal charges? We'll have the latest next in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Live pictures now, active flames, billowing smoke. This is Sonoma County, California. A terrible situation. Firefighters have been trying to map out their course of action, trying to battle this blaze. At any moment, you could potentially see a grid of streets and highways that they use as an overlay on images like that, then they're able to see what areas are most problematic, where people live, where businesses might be, and how they're going to battle. There are flames that are being fanned by aggressive winds. That's a continuation today. But they are trying to assault this fire by the ground and actually by air, with choppers and even airplanes dropping water as best they can. We'll keep a close watch on the situation in Sonoma County and beyond in California.

Also right now, in California, the board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is meeting to discuss whether Harvey Weinstein's membership should be stripped. This as a number of sexual assault accusations against the media mogul continue to grow. There are now more than 30 accusers leveling accusations against Weinstein, ranging from rape, sexual assault and harassment. Weinstein's camp has issued a statement saying, quote, "Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein."

Joining me right now to discuss, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor. And criminal defense attorney, Richard Herman.

Good to see both of you.


WHITFIELD: So we know, investigators in New York and London are looking into two of the cases.

So, Richard, could any of these investigations lead to criminal charges?

[13:26:14] RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Well, they could, Fred, because any nonconsensual touching is a crime. It's simple. It can't be any simpler than that. And why the district attorney in 2015 in New York County did not prosecute, when they had corroboration, they had a tape where Weinstein admitted it, that raises so many specters of issues. He took a $100,000 campaign donation. Just horrible.

But here's the thing, Fred. It's easy to sit back and say, they should prosecute him. These alleged victims will have to testify under vicious cross-examination, Fred.


HERMAN: Their personal sexual histories will be put on display here. The embarrassment, humility, it's so difficult to do this, Fred. Consent will be the issue, without any DNA, it's their word and their word alone, very tough.

WHITFIELD: It could be potentially very tough and difficult, Avery, but did they already essentially say, I'm willing to go through with that if it means he could be prosecuted or if it means that, you know -- if there are criminal charges that should be imposed against him, that because of their testimony, those charges could happen?

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Well, they could happen. In fact, in a reported employment contract between Harvey Weinstein and the board of the Weinstein Company, believe it or not, the board provided enabling to Weinstein, by saying, if you sexually assault somebody the first time, that's going to cost you $250,000. If you do it a second time, it will cost you $500, if you do it a third time, it will cost you a million. Can you imagine -- (CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: That acknowledgement is meaningful.

HERMAN: It's unbelievable. Can you believe an employer enabling a manager to do that? The only way this contract can be breached, Fredricka, is if he's indicted. That's the criminal part. That's why it's important. Also, if you think anyone's going to see anything in court, at least between the board and Weinstein, it'll never happen because both of them waived the right to go to court and go into a private mediation. Can you believe that? Unbelievable.

WHITFIELD: Wait a minute, Avery, with that said, it's not just Harvey Weinstein who is potentially facing charges. But, as a company, board members all would be potentially complicit if the agreement you laid out was common knowledge and being practiced?

FRIEDMAN: Yes. I think they're in the soup along with Harvey. I think the problem is that the prosecutor's office has to take a look. By the way, the board presumes that all the sexual contact -- and this is mind blowing -- is consensual. There are 30 cases of it, all the way to rape. Who's consenting to this? The board is no less significantly involved than Harvey is. They're letting him get away with it.

WHITFIELD: Richard, you talked about that 2015 case, the audiotape of a young lady. She was also profiled in the "New Yorker" magazine, where the reporter talked to a number of people. The young model whose name was Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, telling authorities she was groped by Weinstein. She wore a wire. Here's the audiotape. Let's listen.


HARVEY WEINSTEIN, MEDIA MOGUL: I'm not going to do anything, I swear on my children. Please come in. On everything -- I'm a famous guy.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ, GROPED BY WEINSTEIN: I'm feeling very uncomfortable right now.

WEINSTEIN: Please, come in now, and one minute it. And if want -- when the guy comes for my --


GUTIERREZ: Why yesterday you touched my breast.

WEINSTEIN: Please, I'm sorry. Just come in. I'm used to that.

GUTIERREZ: You're used to that?


[13:30:00] WHITFIELD: Richard, you mentioned the Manhattan D.A. did not prosecute, saying there was not enough evidence there. Now that this case has been opened up where all these accusations have been made and there's a lot of corroboration with these accusations, do you see this case will be revisited? That potentially, someone else will consider this, and, yes, there is sufficient evidence, so let's proceed?

RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Well, it's the same district attorney, Fred. So I don't know. He's got egg on his face. He may try to rebuild himself, I don't know. But let's be clear, Fred --


WHITFIELD: -- been so public.


WHITFIELD: He responded to it this week in the press conference, but might others, public opinion, pressure from other legal extensions might say, you need to reconsider this.

HERMAN: It's a lot of pressure, Fred, and hopefully, he will. But that case is different from the other ones. Here you have corroboration. And let me make it clear, any attempt by any person with power and money to take advantage of women or the opposite sex is horrible, it's horrible. But to prove these cases, it's not what you know, it's what you can prove. Here, Fred, you must be able to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt, and without any corroboration -


HERMAN: These are very, very difficult to prove, Fred. Because the cross-examination is devastating on these alleged victims. And jurors are going to say, they consented, they wanted to better themselves in Hollywood, so they slept with this guy or had sex with him, they wanted the role in the movie. It's consent.


HERMAN: It's tough to win.

WHITFIELD: Interesting.

So, Avery, why do you disagree? Dispute the fact that you have now more than 30 women whose stories are similar, saying it's difficult to prove?

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: I think in criminal law, obviously, they've got beyond a reasonable doubt. The civil area is preponderance of the evidence. And frankly,


FRIEDMAN: -- culpable in terms of civil claims. Let me tell you something, this involves millions of dollars. One way to stop people like this is to make it too expensive. That's the importance of the pursuit of civil claims by the victims. And also, bringing the board in, they enabled him. (CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Wait a minute, Avery. There were a few $100,000 settlements, so isn't that, too, an admission that would help --


HERMAN: Not admissible.

AVERY: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Of course, it's an admission. The interesting thing is in the contract.


HERMAN: You don't know. You don't know.


WHITFIELD: Wait, one at a time.

Avery, you first.

And then, Richard.

Your audio cancels each other out.

But go ahead, Avery.

FRIEDMAN: The bottom line is, under his employment contract, if he settles something, he has to disclose it to the board, if he signs it. Well, he's got these cases, Fredricka, without signature. They're paying out money all over the place, the board knows it. I think the key in solving problems with big shots like Weinstein is to go after him civilly. I think -- I understand the argument about criminal prosecutions, but I think you really have to put this guy out of business. Keep him away. Get him out of the movie business. Keep him away from women.

WHITFIELD: OK, Richard, quickly, your response to $100,000


WHITFIELD: Admission, question mark, you say no.

HERMAN: In civil cases, most of them, the statute of limitations has expired. Two, any of these settlements that were reached out of court, I have to believe Karnack, Johnny Carson, that those settlement agreements do not admit anything. In fact, they probably say he's a wonderful guy, and because of not -- whatever -- there will be language in there that won't be


HERMAN: -- won't admit guilt. That's the point with those settlements, Fred.

WHITFIELD: OK, interesting. Also, fascinating. The legal road ahead or simply the road ahead for Weinstein. Whatever it ends up being.


WHITFIELD: Avery Friedman, Richard Herman, thanks so much.

HERMAN: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Again, the meeting taking place today involving the Academy Awards Pictures.

President Trump trying now to undermine the Iran nuclear deal. But what message does that send to North Korea? We'll take a closer look at both situations next, in the NEWSROOM.


[13:38:33] WHITFIELD: U.S. Congress will now have to take up deciding the fate of the Iran nuclear agreement. President Trump declined to recertify the deal Friday, saying Iran is no longer in compliance with the agreement negotiated by the Obama administration. Trump said he may even go a step further, if necessary.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, you will rip the Iran deal up?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I may do that. The deal is terrible. What we've done is, through the decertification process, we'll have Congress take a look at it. And I may very well do that, but I like a two-step process much better.


WHITFIELD: Iran responded by saying, any action against the deal is, quote, "a strategic mistake and would draw a strong and unified reciprocal action."

I want to bring in CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott.

Elise, Trump says it's terrible when describing the existing Iran deal, and Iran has multiple violations. True or false?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Not really, Fred. And the most important thing is, even his own advisers in the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said that Iran has been in compliance. There were a couple times there were small infractions on technical things like heavy water, Iran crept a little bit past the amount that they were supposed to have, the IAEA talked to them about it, and they quickly went back.

One of the main things President Trump has talked about is Iran's ballistic missile tests. This was not addressed in the deal. It was enshrined in the U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed the deal.

The main thing is that the whole international community, the IAEA and even the United States and all of its partners in the deal, say that Iran is in compliance.

Now, the U.S. is calling it tactical compliance, meaning they have to do what they have to do to get past the deal so they can go back to launching -- building a nuclear weapon and launching. But as far as the deal is concerned, Iran is complying.

[13:40:37] WHITFIELD: Yes, that's different than many violations --

LABOTT: That's right.

WHITFIELD: -- which is what the president said. So other countries in the deal are imploring the U.S. not to impose any changes. If that were the case, it would be the U.S. that would breach the deal.

LABOTT: That's right. If the U.S. breaches the deal, Iran can say, well, the U.S. is in breach of the deal, we can throw out all the inspectors, we can go back to enriching our uranium enrichment program, more things towards that nuclear weapon. I don't know that Iran is going to do that. There's a lot of rhetoric flying around about what the Iranians will do. But the rest of the countries in the deal, the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia, have said they're staying in the deal. If the U.S. pulls out, it would really find itself isolated here.

WHITFIELD: Elise Labott, in Washington, thanks so much.

Meanwhile, North Korea is renewing its threat to attack the U.S. territory of Guam. And article in North Korean state media is saying, quote, "We have already warned several times that we will take counteractions for self-defense, including a salvo of missiles into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam."

This threat coming a day after the U.S. and South Korea announced new military exercises in the region.

I want to talk this over with Gordon Chang, the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World," and a columnist with "The Daily Beast."

It's worth taking note that North Korea is reiterating this old threat that Guam could be in trouble.

So how do you interpret that? It sounds like when North Korea says, take counteractions for self-defense, that sounds like that's in response to the U.S. making some preemptive action. Is that how you interpret it?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST & AUTHOR: The North Koreans will always say something provocative. And sometimes they'll do something belligerent whenever there are these large-scale exercises between South Korea and the United States, like we have right now with the "USS Ronald Reagan" carrier along with 39 or so other ships. The North Koreans don't like this. They think it's preparation for a launch of an attack on North Korea. That is not true. But this is standard operating procedure for the North Koreans. This threat against Guam is something we need to take into account. The North Koreans usually carry through on their threats. They don't always carry through when they say they'll do it. But they said this in August, they're saying it now. I think probably, at some point, they will fire a missile close to Guam.

WHITFIELD: President Trump has continued to refer to Kim Jong-Un as Rocket Man, Little Rocket Man. Congressman Adam Kinzinger suggests that Trump's tweeting about this situation may not be an entirely bad thing. This is Kinzinger.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R), ILLINOIS: I think there's a benefit that the president shows some unpredictability. If you actually have seen stories where it says Kim Jong-Un and his regime have actually tried to reach out, unsuccessfully, of course, to Republican consultants to say, what makes Donald Trump tick, it shows they're worried about it. But really, the president and the administration's audience in some of things with North Korea is not even Kim Jong-Un as the audience, it's China.


WHITFIELD: Do you see it that way? Unpredictable means -- unpredictable, advantageous to the U.S.?

CHANG: I think the insults do not help us at all. Most of the threats, I think, don't help us either. Clearly, keeping Kim Jong-Un unnerved in some ways can be a good thing. But it can only be a good thing if the United States exercises skillful diplomacy in order to push the North Koreans in the right direction. If you unnerve Kim, he could go in another way. That would not be good for the United States and our allies and partners.

WHITFIELD: How do you see, potentially, how Trump, you know, has changed his approach to the Iran deal, how that potentially impacts handling North Korea and every issue that comes with it?

CHANG: I think probably pretty little.

The Iranians are said to have paid the North Koreans somewhere between $2 billion and $3 billion a year for their various forms of cooperation, most of it ballistic missiles, but also nuclear weapons technology. I think the North Koreans are going to look very closely at what this president is doing with regard to Iran. But they've seen that Trump is unpredictable. He's willing to go beyond convention, which is what he did yesterday with the Iran deal. I don't think there's a real potential for diplomacy or at least negotiations at this time. So I don't see a real effect on that.

You know, eventually, we will have to end this with diplomacy, but only when the North Koreans realize they have to give up their missiles and nukes. We're a long way from that right now.

[13:45:23] WHITFIELD: But you say diplomacy, you know, stands a pretty good chance here. But when have a president of the United States who chastises his own secretary of state and says, diplomacy, why even bother, that sends a pretty ominous message.

CHANG: It is in a sense. But at this particular time, you know, talking to the North Koreans will only give them more opportunity to perfect their missiles and nukes. We did that during the Six Party talks last decade. That was not the right strategy, and we should not be repeating mistakes.

You know, with regard to Secretary Tillerson, there's a real issue, because his message is different than Trump's, and it's the responsibility of the president to impose some message discipline on the people that work for him. And they have to get a common policy. If they don't do that, we're really in trouble.

WHITFIELD: Even though Tillerson was in Beijing and meeting with counterparts there, China recently has been rather quiet on its approach or ongoing threats for North Korea. What does that mean?

CHANGE: Fred, it means we're in the runup to the 19th Communist Party Congress, which starts on October 18. This is a time which is consequential for Xi Jinping, the Chinese ruler. He wants to consolidate power and do certain things that break Communist Party norms that have been in place for about two decades. He does not want to roil the situation. So he's not going to say anything about North Korea. And he's going to try to react as little as possible to not only North Korea, not only Iran, but everything. Because they're really focused in on the domestic issues right now inside the Communist Party. The rest of the world, for them, has fallen away.

WHITFIELD: Out loud, even President Trump has been -- has not been as critical of China as he has in the past. Is there any strategy behind that in your view?

CHANG: Yes, I think the Chinese have been a little helpful on the banking relationships, Chinses banks in North Korea. Though, they've not been as helpful as Trump said they have been. You know what, right now, President Trump is trying to cut off money to the North Koreans and, obviously, he wants Chinese cooperation. I think that explains President Trump's milder statements about Beijing recently.

WHITFIELD: Gordon Chang, always good to see you. Thanks so much.

CHANG: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, a flag-flying flap. Why the Interior secretary is flying a personal banner over his department headquarters.


[13:52:17] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. When U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is in his office, you'll see something overhead that you won't see anywhere else.

Here is CNN's Tom Foreman. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Interior secretary is proving to be one of the more controversial and colorful members of the administration. Not merely marching to his own beat, but flying his own flag.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Even outside the Interior Department, it's easy to know if the secretary is at his desk, because he's ordered the secretary's flag raised above the building when he's in and taken down when he's out, according to "The Washington Post."


FOREMAN: The queen of England's staff follows a similar protocol but, on this side of the pond, not even the president does that.

TRUMP: Ryan is an Eagle Scout from big-sky country in Montana.


FOREMAN: Still, from the get-go, Ryan Zinke has set himself apart.

RYAN ZINKE, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: Those that don't know me, I get my inspiration from Teddy Roosevelt.

FOREMAN: Like the 26th president, who served in the military and rode horses through D.C., Zinke is a former Navy SEAL who cowboyed up for his first day on the job, boots, hat and saddle. Like Roosevelt, Zinke is a big fan of hunting and fishing. But unlike Roosevelt, who protected 230 million acres of public land, Zinke almost immediately began issuing orders to rollback restrictions and open more public lands to fans of both sports. Even installed a deer hunting video game at the Interior building.




FOREMAN: Zinke sponsored a Bring Your Dog to work day. And while several departments offer commemorative coins as souvenirs, Zinke took it a step farther, having one stamped out with his name.


FOREMAN: Some of his actions have provoked sharp criticism. Several trips he made involving private jets and government aircraft are being scrutinized by federal watchdogs, including one visit to Las Vegas during which he spoke to an NHL hockey teamed owned by a political supporter.

ZINKE: Great to be here.

FOREMAN: His aides say all the trips were justified by scheduling matters.

Yet environmentalists have raised alarms over how much they say Zinke is meeting privately with oil, gas and mining interests while leaving activists out.

Zinke's assessment of the uproar about the jets, well, he cited another rough rider from the past.

ZINKE: I just like to address, in the words of General Schwarzkopf, a little B.S.

FOREMAN (on camera): Which is another way of Zinke saying he's done nothing wrong.

And as to that flag, a spokesman told "The Post" it's just a sign of how committed the secretary is to transparency.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


[13:55:01] WHITFIELD: We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. Stay with us.


WHITFIELD: All right. Hello, again. Thanks so much for being with me this saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

This just in. Puerto Rican officials say the death toll in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria has reached 48. The Department of Public Safety attributes two of the last three deaths to the fact that people could not reach medical facilities in time there.

It's been three weeks since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, and thousands still struggle to find basic necessities. CNN is also learning officials are providing people with water, pumped from a well at a hazardous waste site. This weekend, the EPA is testing to see if the water is contaminated.

Ed Lavandera is in San Juan and joins us on the phone.

Ed, you spoke to people getting unsafe water. What does that say about the desperation level there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, everyone knows full well that many people here are in a desperate search for --