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Puerto Ricans Drinking Water From Hazardous Waste Site; Firefighters Make Progress On Deadly California Wildfires; Trump Campaign Subpoenaed Over Sex Assault Allegations. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 16, 2017 - 06:30   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Iraqi forces are clashing with Kurdish fighters in the disputed Kirkuk province. The Pentagon urging both sides to avoid escalating the violence there.

The Iraqi government sending troops into the region to retake control of military bases and oil fields seized by the Kurds back in 2014. There are reports of artillery fire overnight just south of the city.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The death toll keeps climbing in Mogadishu. At least 277 people killed. Multiple truck bombings over the weekend are the cause. Rescuers are continuing to pull bodies from the rubble. Somalia's president declaring three days of national mourning following the deadliest attack in the country's history. So far, there have been no claim of responsibility.

CUOMO: More breaking news, search and rescue crews are scouring Lake Pontchartrain that's near New Orleans because of a huge oil rig explosion. Seven people we know were hurt, an eighth person believed to be missing.

Nearby homeowners said they felt a jolt and heard this large boom. Flames seen shooting out in the distance. Cities of (inaudible) Twitter page reporting that cleaning chemicals on that rig caused the fire.

HARLOW: Meantime, scenes of panic and prayer on an Air Asia flight. Passengers say the crew caused panicked and acted unprofessionally, screaming for people to get down and use oxygen masks after the plane lost cabin pressure, plummeting 20,000 feet in just minutes. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Passengers, get down! Passengers, get down!


HARLOW: That flight from Australia to Bali lost cabin pressure 30 minutes after taking off. Investigators now reviewing voice and data recorders and interviewing the crew. CUOMO: That was not the voice of calm that you want in a moment like that. The overhead was OK, but what they were hearing from the flight attendant.

HARLOW: Unimaginable despair across Puerto Rico. It is a month nearly after Hurricane Maria struck, desperate Americans forced to drink water from a hazardous waste site. We are live in Santa Juan, next.



CUOMO: Look, it is no secret that if you're on the ground in Puerto Rico, it's hard to look around and say, boy, this is a success. Why? Because nearly a month after Hurricane Maria, you have desperation there. Some people are drinking water wherever they find it, even if that place is a hazardous waste site.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in San Juan with more. What's the reality?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Well, all of this is going around a little town called Dorado. EPA officials, Environmental Protection Agency of the United States, is urging people to avoid a number of water wells in the western edge of that town.

It sits on a contaminated superfund site, one of the most toxic sites in the country. This goes to show you how desperate some people are to still find water.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Nearly a month after Hurricane Maria hit, residents around the town of Dorado tapping into this water faucet behind a chain link fence with a sign that reads "danger, do not enter." And despite the warnings from a police officer -- they come here to fill containers of water.

But few of them know, this well sits in an area designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as a superfund site where the ground is known to contain dangerously high levels of toxic chemicals. It's located on the northern edge of the island west of San Juan.

[06:40:05] In the Dorado superfund site, there are at least six wells that residents have reportedly tapped into for water. One of the wells is accessed in a shopping center parking lot, and there have been long lines of residents waiting to fill up what they can.

The governor of Puerto Rico insists that the water is safe. He says the territory's Department of Health has tested it.

GOVERNOR RICARDO ROSSELO, PUERTO RICO: Obviously, if it's nondrinking water, we're not going to be serving it. But if it complies with the Clean Water Act then it is going to happen.

LAVANDERA: But it's not clear if the other wells are safe. An Environmental Protection Agency team spent the weekend gathering samples for further testing.

GARY LIPSON, EPA INCIDENT COMMANDER, PUERTO RICO OPERATIONS: We're not saying that somebody is in immediate danger by drinking this water. We are considering it a long-term risk.

LAVANDERA: Gary Lipson is the EPA incident commander in Puerto Rico. He says they're looking for signs of industrial toxins often linked to serious health problems, including cancer. And EPA documents show that as late as last year, dangerous levels of those industrial toxins were found in the ground.

(on camera): How concerned are you about what might happen to them?

LIPSON: We're concerned, because it's not absolutely clean, you know, pure water. There are some contaminants.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Right after the EPA team left and locked the site, Juan Carlos Okendo (ph) and his brother showed up, peeled back the fence and filled up dozens of containers with water.

(on camera): Are you going to drink this water?


LAVANDERA: You're going to drink it? You're willing to take the chance? (Inaudible). He said this is it. There is no other water. They'll take the chance. He says if I don't drink water I'm going die might as well drink this one.

(voice-over): Juan Carlos brought us to his home where he lives with his family. The top floor was destroyed by the hurricane. His mother says they have only received two packages of water since the storm. She's been drinking the water from that potentially contaminated well for two weeks, and says she now has stomach pains.

(on camera): She says the stomach pains started about two weeks ago and she's trying to ignore them. Do you think it has something to do with the water?

She doesn't know for sure, but she thinks it might have something to do with the water she's been drinking.

(voice-over): It's impossible to know for sure if the stomach pains are related, but in these desperate times with every drop of water, many Puerto Ricans could be flirting with another disaster.


LAVANDERA: Government officials here in Puerto Rico say about 70 percent of the Puerto Rican island now has usable drinking water and 85 percent of this island is still without electrical power. Chris and Poppy, since President Trump visited the island, the death toll here has tripled -- Chris and Poppy.

HARLOW: Ed Lavandera, we are so glad you're on the ground bringing us those stories and the facts. Thank you. Signs of hope this morning amid the devastation in Northern California. Crews finally begin to get the upper hand on some of these raging wildfires. At least 40 people have been killed by the flames, hundreds still unaccounted for.

Let's go to our Ryan Young. He is in hard hit Santa Rosa, California. Things finally turning the corner of it?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Finally, turning the corner, look these firefighters were working very hard. The two largest fires that created the most damaged we are told are now 60 percent contained.

And even where we are standing usually we can see the fire glowing in the distance, to this morning, we can't really see the fire and the smoke is not spreading in the same way it has for the last few days.

But we need to show this video because two roommates were trying to escape that fast-moving fire when the winds were moving like hurricane force winds, 60 to 70 miles per hour. You can see in their video as they are trying to escape the fire, just what several people were dealing with.

The idea that they were trying to run from a fire that was spreading so fast, they couldn't even see what was in front of them. They were scared and they were able to get in a car and make it out of here. They were able to survive.

But we also wanted to tell you a story about a couple who was visiting here on vacation. They were married for 50 years. They jumped into a pool to escape the fire. Unfortunately, the husband lost his wife right in his arms because the smoke and the fire was just too much. She died there. He suffered second-degree burns.

We Are hearing more and more stories of survival and pain just like this one. When you talk about the fact that so many people are still missing, this pain won't be over for quite some time for an area that is in desperate need of rain and some healing -- Chris.

CUOMO: You know, unlike the hurricane, we cover it, it comes, it's gone, and then you deal with it. These fires, until they're completely out, when the wind comes back, you're seeing it there, it turbo charges it. And the whole thing can start again. That's why they are so cautious about saying they have it under control.

YOUNG: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Ryan, good to see you without the mask, but we know you're still in hard way there so best to you and the team. We'll check back with you in a little bit.

[06:45:07] Again, weather conditions, you know, that's what you're dealing with when you're fighting a fire. They are getting better, but you have to look at it every day. CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers, has the answer. How is it looking for them today, Chad? CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The worst we get today, Chris, is about 12 miles per hour. So, we'll deal with that. By Thursday, there will even be some rain. Twenty active fires right now, 340 square miles burned.

We will see some cooler weather. We will see some rain, but we won't see what they will see in Seattle. Seattle will get 12 inches of rain in the next five days. Santa Rosa, probably picks up a quarter of an inch. We'll take it, don't get me wrong, because it doesn't come with wind.

But it doesn't come like this across the northeast. Significant rainfall in D.C., Philadelphia. Take some of this rain and spread it out there, they would love that. Temperatures will be cool. Yesterday, New York City 74, today only 60. Tonight, there will be frost around -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Chad, thank you so much for keeping an eye on all of this for us. We appreciate it.

Ahead for us, the Trump campaign facing a subpoena from a former contestant on "The Apprentice." She accuses the president of sexual assault. The legal implications next.



CUOMO: All right. We're in another moment where the law could wind up influencing our politics. There is a woman who says President Trump sexual assaulted her 10 years ago. She has now subpoenaed the campaign for any documents that he has related to her or anyone who claims they were touched inappropriately.

Summer Zervos (ph) is a former contestant on "The Apprentice." She claims in 2007 Mr. Trump kissed her twice during a lunch meeting in his New York City office and on a separate occasion in Beverly Hills where she alleges he groped her. The president denies all of these claims.

Let's discuss the possibility, the potential impact of this move. Big brains for you, senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan. Bring the case, if you're working with Zervos and you want these subpoenas, why? Why 10 years ago? Why now?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The United States Supreme Court said in the Paula Jones case that sitting presidents of the United States are not immune from civil lawsuits. So, the lawsuit can proceed. Her claim is -- you know she's trying to get around the statute of limitations.

CUOMO: Right.

TOOBIN: So, it is not a claim for sexual harassment. It is a claim for defamation, libel in a sense --

CUOMO: So, when he said this never happened --

TOOBIN: -- she's a liar. That is what she is claiming. You know, it is not perhaps the strongest lawsuit in the world, but it is a lawsuit at this stage. She is now saying I need discovery. I need to take depositions, get documents, to let my lawsuit proceed, and that's what she is doing.

CUOMO: The president gives you a phone call and says I need you as my personal counsel on this, quash these subpoenas, get rid of them, how do you do it?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's an odd duck of a lawsuit that's pending in state court. I've looked at the subpoena. It is a monstrous document in terms of what they're looking for. Remember, Summer is suing saying he defamed me because he called me a liar.

And what's relevant to her being called a liar? Well, not every woman that Trump has ever had an interaction with over the years and essentially that's what the subpoena is looking for.

Anybody who has made a complaint against him of the female variety, Gloria Allred is looking for all records that the Trump campaign or others may have in their possession. That is an overly broad subpoena, and it will be quashed as they say in the trade, in state court.

Now, they do have the right to subpoena relevant information, relevant to Gloria's plaintiff in the case, and so you will see a narrowed down subpoena being granted.

CUOMO: But you think it sticks?

CALLAN: I think --

CUOMO: What about summary judgment and getting the whole case thrown out then obviously any needs for discovery do as well.

TOOBIN: There is a motion to dismiss the case even before discovery. I'm not sure that will succeed. I think at least on its face it makes out a claim of defamation and that would allow it simply to get to discovery.

I think Paul is right, that the discovery request will be narrow. There is nothing unusual about that. Lawyers are famous for asking for everything under the sun. The judge says, no, you can have some things but not others.

But there could be significant discovery provided in this case and there could be a deposition. And if you recall, it was President Clinton's deposition in the Paula Jones case that led directly to his impeachment. So, I mean, this is no joke in terms of potential seriousness.

CALLAN: You are in New York also and you have an elected judiciary in New York. Trump is not popular in New York. So, I don't see -- I agree with Jeff, I don't see it being dismissed. There was also a federal case in Massachusetts in the Cosby matter brought on the same theory. This is defamation because you were denying and claiming that these women were liars and that was upheld by the federal court. This is a state court judge.

I don't think you will see a dismissal. I don't think the president will be deposed in the foreseeable future. I do think it is a theoretical possibility because of the Paula Jones case.

But remember, in the Paula Jones case, the court did say you have to look at whether involvement in the litigation will disturb the president's operation as president and Trump has thousands of cases floating around out there.

I mean, they could pull him out of the White House forever to start testifying. You know, Clinton only had the one deal going with Paula Jones. So, the burden on the presidency was quite different. So, I think that will be a big deal when you start pulling him into these cases.

TOOBIN: I don't know why you would get a benefit from the fact that you're sued a lot as opposed to only once, but you know, we will see.

CALLAN: You do have a country to run.

[06:55:00] CUOMO: Let me ask you something because of all the writing, thinking, and research you've done about the Supreme Court, the president musing I may pick four judges during my tenure. Is that a possibility? It has to be. And what do you think the likelihood and the impact will be?

TOOBIN: Well, it is possible. My rule on Supreme Court appointments is those who know don't tell and those who tell don't know. So, we don't -- Ruth Ginsburg is 84. Anthony Kennedy is 81. Steven Briar is 79. You know, 84 is not the new anything, 84 is 84.

CUOMO: Jeffrey, easy. My mother loves you, but she's watching right now. She's only 60. But I'll tell you what, you know, when she hears people talking about the octogenarians, she will give you one good karate.

TOOBIN: They are all at the top of their game as far as I have been able to see.

CUOMO: So, it is possible you are not looking at his probable at this point.

TOOBIN: Certainly not probable, one or two more is more in the range of probable.

CUOMO: All right. I'll spare you until we get more on it -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Thank you, guys, very much. We appreciate the conversation. All right. After months of not seeing eye to eye, President Trump and Mitch McConnell will meet in just a few hours. They will dine together, lunch, will they get anything done? That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)