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First Charges Filed in Mueller Investigation; Nigerien Soldier: U.S. Team Had Insufficient Firepower; Haley On Extremism In Africa: "U.S. Will Have To Deal With It"; North Koreans "Furious" Over Trump Rhetoric; Two Women, Two Dogs Adrift In The Pacific For Nearly Five Months; Trump Invites Kids To White House Halloween Insults Parents. Aired 11-12p ET
Aired October 28, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:24] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. It's 11:00 on the East Coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Welcome.
We begin with breaking news.
The White House responds with a "no comment" just moments ago following the news that the first charges have been filed in the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller is investigating Russia interference in the 2016 election, possible collusion with Donald Trump's campaign, as well as possible obstruction of justice by the President.
A federal judge has ordered the charges remain sealed, but sources tell CNN anyone could be taken into custody as soon as Monday. Still unclear who could be charged or the possible charges.
Our correspondents and expert analysts are standing by to break it all down for us.
Let's begin with CNN's Ryan Nobles at the White House.
So, Ryan -- we have heard from the White House with a no comment. Anything more?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: No. That's it so far -- Fredricka. I was in contact with a White House official this morning that said that was going to be the White House's response. There would be no comment. And the President himself has followed suit with that specific position by this White House.
He has been on Twitter this morning. He's tweeted three times, has not at all mentioned this report that charges will be filed in the investigation by the special counsel.
And, you know, the White House has really positioned itself here to play the political game when it comes to this investigation. Over the past several days and even weeks leading up to the announcement that charges would be filed the White House has worked to really discredit the Mueller investigation and suggest that it's costing taxpayers too much money and that it's generally a waste of time; the President specifically saying on Twitter yesterday that the investigation was costly.
So the White House at this point distancing itself from this report. We don't exactly know who is going to be arrested and when those arrests do come down next week. But at this point, the White House choosing not to talk about the substance of this issue at all; instead just talk about the potential political fallout that could come from it -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Nobles at the White House -- thanks so much.
Let's talk more about all of this with David Swerdlick, CNN political commentator and assistant editor of the "Washington Post", CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali, and Michael Zeldin, a CNN legal analyst who was special counsel to then assistant Attorney-General Robert Mueller. All right. Good to see you all, gentlemen.
All right. So, Michael -- you first, this could involve one or perhaps multiple people indicted. Would Mueller's team want the first indictments to be significant, you know, to help set a tone?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, possibly. I think from what I've known of Mueller over the years is that he's going to take his evidence in the order it comes to him and bring charges in a way that makes sense to the order of the prosecution he wants to bring forward without respect to politics. And that is the shot across the bow, send a message sort of stuff.
So because of that, my sense is that because the Manafort and Flynn grand juries were the most advanced that more likely than not it involves one of those two guys. And the question will then become what are the charges that are brought?
And there are two ways of looking at it. One, it could be charges that touch upon the collusion allegations and then there are others that it could be pure financial or tax, sort of somewhat collateral to the principal collusion inquiry.
And which one it is will determine how it's responded to politically and how others in the legal sort of orbit of Mueller's investigation are going to respond. Meaning do they now say it's time for me to make a plea, it's time for me to cooperate or do I double down and go into the cone of silence and let Mueller try to indict me too?
WHITFIELD: So, Tim -- how unnerving is this for the White House this weekend? We know there's a no comment thus far. But should the President, you know, be worried even if there are charges that are not directly connected to collusion or even obstruction of justice?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I mean, it's very unnerving for a White House. Partly it's unnerving because they don't know what the indictments will be either. And they're speculating on who would be -- who would be named. And secondly, the question that was just raised. Are these indictments linked to Russia and collusion? Or are they involving Foreign Registration Act violations, tax law violations.
And if they're tax law and Foreign Registration Act violations, those are really touching on if it's Manafort and Flynn, their personal business world. If it's collusion, that involves the Trump campaign.
[11:05:06] So the nature of the indictments will affect the way in which the White House responds, and the White House doesn't know.
What the President and what congressional Republicans want is the opportunity to talk about tax cutting. And this is just a distraction. And this is the other problem for them, which is people are going to be asking about this, and they won't be able to get their main message out.
WHITFIELD: Good point. All right. So the campaign overall and even the Trump White House post campaign days has denied any collusion across the board. Here is a reminder. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russia story is a total fabrication.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course not.
TRUMP: So there has been absolutely no collusion. It's been stated that they have no collusion.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No, there are not. It's absurd.
TRUMP: There was no collusion between us and Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely not.
TRUMP: In the meantime -- no collusion, no obstruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, David -- you know, complete deniability all across the board even as early as yesterday from the press secretary. She too was adamant that, you know, there is nothing there. But now that there are charges and possibly some arrests as early as Monday, how silencing might this be for the White House for a bit?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So I think what it's going to do is change the tone of some of the statements that the White House makes, maybe make them more cautious if they want to listen to their lawyers.
This is a big deal, right. It's the first time that special prosecutor Mueller has sort of planted his foot and moved forward with charges, even though it's a sealed indictment.
That being said, I think stepping back big picture, it's important for everyone to remember that what we're not likely to see next week is either some charges brought or someone brought in under arrest that's going to essentially bring the administration down and bring the President to his knees. I don't think people should expect that to happen.
We also shouldn't expect that anything that happens next week is going to fully exonerate the administration. This investigation by special prosecutor Mueller has moved in a sense quickly. He was only appointed in May. It's only been several months and they're already at the point of issuing a sealed indictment.
At the same time it's moved very methodically and pretty efficiently. And they've had a minimal number of leaks. We are still speculating on who is going to be indicted and arrested next week if that in fact is the case. And I think it will proceed for months and maybe even years methodically into the future.
WHITFIELD: So here was the press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders just yesterday. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And the President wants to see this completed. We think that we are continuing to see day in, day out as this investigation moves to completion that as the same as it started, there's still no evidence of collusion between the President and anyone.
If any collusion took place, it would be between the DNC and the Clintons. And I think we're starting to now see that all of the things that Democrats had accused this President of doing they were actually guilty of themselves. And I think that's a really big problem that should be certainly looked at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Michael, again, we don't know what the charges are. You know, these are sealed documents to be unsealed as early as Monday.
So in your view, Michael -- then, just listening to what she had to say, how broadsided might this White House be feeling about now? ZELDIN: Well, I can't speak to the politics of this. I think her
statement is legally and factually incorrect. I think that what we're going to see is one of two things. Either an indictment that touches upon Russia, in which case all the people who have some links to Russia -- the Roger Stones, the Carter Pages, the Flynn son and the Flynn dad, Kushner, Manafort -- they have to be sitting up straighter in their chairs.
If we see an indictment that's collateral -- meaning just tax or money laundering or failure to register as a foreign agent for business dealings with these people, then that's an interesting proposition because, remember, the President said to the "New York Times" there's a red line that he wants to draw around personal finances.
And so if this is an indictment around the personal finances say, of a Manafort or a Flynn for their consulting work in Turkey or Ukraine, disconnected to the Russia investigation, then the President has to decide what's he going to say about that because he now knows that Mueller disagrees with him about this red line and that his finances and his taxes may be fair game as far as Mueller is concerned. And therefore, the President has to make a decision about how he's going to respond to that.
[11:10:13] So neither proposition works out very well for the White House, I think, from talking points standpoint. And I expect that Sarah Huckabee Sanders has to be reworking her talking points over the weekend because they don't hold up any longer.
WHITFIELD: And then David, you know, how much of this might be part of Mueller's strategy as well? You know, these grand jury indictments that have just been dropped, might this potentially smoke out more information or perhaps get any other witnesses to change their story, divulge more, even potentially consider plea deals?
SWERDLICK: Yes. So I think that's one of the leading theories and a number of our colleagues have already discussed that -- our legal colleagues, right. Michael touched on a little bit. If someone -- if the indictments are unsealed next week and it turns out that someone, say, like Manafort is charged with a financial crime, that's a crime that doesn't necessarily tie in to the President or to any charge that the President or someone on his campaign colluded with Russian government officials.
But it might be a brick in a house that the special prosecutor is building essentially to build a case to maybe roll up one of the people charged in this indictment or the person charged in this indictment into a bigger charge to a, if you will, bigger fish in the broader investigation that the special prosecutor is looking into with regard to Russia.
WHITFIELD: And Tim -- again, we don't know the charges, who it involves. But potentially how does this further handicap or period -- just handicap the President, especially as he tries to still embark on his tax reform and other possible policies by the end of the year?
NAFTALI: Well, this obviously distracts from, you know, a message- setting agenda. But I wanted to mention a point about something that Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
NAFTALI: She was talking about, you know, one of the things we won't find out Monday is who is guilty. We've got to keep that in mind. These are indictments. These people will be going to trial, whoever they happen to be. And a jury will determine their innocence or guilt.
So what's really important to look at, I think, on Monday if that's when the indictments come down is whether we are talking about crimes committed as part of the Trump campaign or crimes committed in their private lives -- either before Trump or during the Trump era when they were doing some side deals.
If it's about their private lives, their private lives, then it will be very easy for the White House to say we didn't know these people. The President, you know -- they're innocent until proven guilty and that's that.
And you know what? There's no evidence that the White House was colluding with Russia. They'll make that statement, I suspect.
If it touches on the campaign, then it becomes a much more serious problem immediately. The Mueller investigation isn't going away. These aren't the first indictments.
ZELDIN: That's right.
WHITFIELD: All right.
ZELDIN: So it's that we're up to the --
WHITFIELD: Go ahead -- Michael.
ZELDIN: -- we're up to the late great Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part. We have to see what comes down the line.
WHITFIELD: That is so true. All right. Michael Zeldin, David Swerdlick and Timothy Naftali -- thanks so much to all of you.
We're going to talk again after the break.
Straight ahead-- President Trump focusing on everything but the Russia investigation. He's back to hitting his old nemesis and raising questions about what role Democrats had in that much talked about dossier.
Plus new details on the ambush in Niger that left four American soldiers dead. What we're learning about what they were doing at the time of the attack and how they became separated in the heat of battle.
And stranded at sea for months with little hope for survival.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We probably had less than 24 hours before our boat sank.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Wow. Two women drifting in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by sharks -- the lucky break that likely saved their lives.
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
Before news broke that indictments could become unsealed as early as Monday stemming from special prosecutor Mueller's Russia investigation, this has been the White House's narrative all week, calling for the U.S. State Department to release the rest of Hillary Clinton's e-mails, comparing the Obama era uranium deal to Watergate, and harping on the Democrats' ties in funding of the Trump dossier about his alleged connections to Russia.
Well, these are apparent attempts by the White House to divert attention off the Russia investigation and on to Hillary Clinton. At least that's the argument that we heard from Carl Bernstein last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What we've seen all week, though, is once again, the President of the United States instead of encouraging this special counsel to get to the bottom of the Russia investigation and what happened and what Russia did and whether or not there were any members of his entourage, Trump's entourage, involved in encouraging Russians to interfere. The President of the United States has sought to muddy the waters by once again making Hillary Clinton the issue instead of the conduct of the President himself and those around him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: I want to bring back two out of the three from our previous panel. David Swerdlick and Tim Naftali are back.
So David -- do you agree with what journalist Bernstein is saying?
SWERDLICK: So Fred -- I think what we saw this week clearly was that the administration was sort of flooding the zone with different stories with regard to Russia that at least spread out the narrative so that it wasn't all focused on one particular thing. Things weren't focused as much on the President.
But let's take these stories one at a time, right. When you're talking about the Uranium One story, to my knowledge no evidence has emerged that there was any wrongdoing on the part of Secretary Clinton. [11:20:00] But you have to look at it and say, ok, the fact that the Clinton Foundation did have these ties with people who were tied to Uranium One, even if they were not all happening at the same time, even if Uranium One was sold to Russian interests after the connection with the Clinton Foundation donor was sort of severed or past that, it allows people to develop these narratives even if there actually winds up being nothing to it.
Similarly, in the case of the story about the dossier from Fusion GPS, again, this has been -- this is opposition research. It's what campaigns do. Republicans and Democrats contracted Fusion GPS. I want to just be as precise as I can on this because I spoke about this earlier this week and was not as precise as I could have been.
One thing that happened with Fusion GPS again is that even if things proceeded in a way that they should have, and I think there are still some questions about how it was funded and this lawyer Marc Elias, who is a Democratic lawyer was one of the people steering Fusion GPS in this opposition research, there's still this issue of the fact that all these prominent Democrats -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John Podesta have sort of, you know, been asked this week what did you know about this and they've all said we didn't know anything about it.
That doesn't mean that they're not telling the truth. It simply means that it's allowed the Republicans -- it's allowed the Trump camp to spin a different narrative away from the administration because these questions remain unanswered.
WHITFIELD: And then, Tim, you know, what motivates the President at this juncture, you know, to not want to back any investigations that get to the core of what and who may have been interfering with the democratic system here?
NAFTALI: Well Fred --
WHITFIELD: What's his motivation?
NAFTALI: That's been the question all along. It goes back to why he fired Comey and go back to the campaign and just after the election, why he was not willing to at least provide some -- didn't show any respect for the intelligence community's assessment that the Russians had intervened in the election.
Given every opportunity to show a desire to learn facts, he's backed away and given the impression, as a result, that he's trying to hide something. Now, we don't know if this is just his combative self, the fact that he's never going to accept any criticism of himself or whether he's trying to hide something. We just don't know.
What we can expect is more diversionary tactics, what a lot of very good writing has been going out. There's been a lot of good analytical work on how Clinton hatred is what holds the Republican Party to the extent that it's together; the one thing that holds them together is the dislike of Clinton.
The President is playing on that, bringing up Clinton era scandal or assumed scandals to distract people from his own concerns and possible role in the deals with the Russians in the 2016 campaign. That's what we're seeing.
It's politics. And it's unfortunate because really the key is what happened in 2016. That's what's most important to our democracy.
WHITFIELD: So David --
SWERDLICK: Yes, Fred --
WHITFIELD: Go ahead -- David.
SWERDLLICK: Yes. I was just going to jump in on what Tim said. I think that's right.
Look, what we have seen in the last year is that antipathy towards Secretary Clinton is something that unifies the Republicans even if they're not unified on matters of policy or on which particular politicians they like or even whether they like President Trump himself.
And this flooding of the zone is a way, whether deliberate or not, we don't know, to sort of -- that helps bring Republicans together in this sort of narrative.
I will just say that ultimately what will wind up being most important, I think, is whether or not the information in this dossier, for instance, is true or not, whether or not there was collusion or not.
We are still a long way away from knowing that and there may not have been or there may have been. And whether or not any of these stories is true is ultimately probably a lot more important than how the information got from point A to point B.
But right now, you know, the administration is taking comfort in the fact that there's all this swirl of facts around where different opposition research came from or what Clinton's role was in all of this or what the Democrats' role in all of this, even though Secretary Clinton is not the President of the United States.
President Trump is the President of the United States. He won the election. Republicans control Congress. Ultimately the focus is on them.
WHITFIELD: He still somehow sees it beneficial as having like a nemesis out there, reminding people of a nemesis.
SWERDLICK: Right, exactly.
WHITFIELD: All right. Tim Naftali, David Swerdlick -- thanks gentlemen, appreciate it.
SWERDLICK: Thank -- Fred.
NAFTALI: Thank you. WHITFIELD: All right. Up next, new details emerging from the ambush
in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers. What happened in the moments leading up to the attack?
This as Nikki Haley appears -- speaks exclusively to CNN on the rising threat coming from that region.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:25:04] NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: If they don't listen to the voices of their people, conflict will erupt, extremism will happen and the United States will have to deal with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. We're learning new details about what exactly happened during the ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers. A Nigerian soldier who was on the scene after the ambush spoke exclusively to CNN saying wounded Nigerian soldiers told him they were outnumbered and outgunned and the ambush forced the convoy to split up. But what surprised the soldier the most, the U.S. troops only had one heavy machine gun, no body armor and were wearing T-shirts and baseball caps.
All of this, as senior military officials, are still sorting out what led to the attack. Intelligence sources tell CNN the attack was likely a target of opportunity rather than a preplanned operation.
CNN correspondent, David Mckenzie is live in the Nigerian capital of Niamey. So, David, what are we learning about how the soldiers became separated are from one another?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, we don't know exactly why they became separated. We do know from that Nigerien source as well as U.S. officials that they did become separated in that heavy firefight that ambushed by a force that in terms of numbers was far superior to the group of Green Berets and other special American soldiers, Special Forces as well as the Nigerien counterparts.
Now, when they split up, it appears that several of the American soldiers had to get out of their vehicles to try and outflank the attacking force, to try and change the nature of the engagement.
And it's believed that those three American soldiers killed were in that one area that was separated later, obviously, more than 48 hours later, Sergeant La David Johnson was recovered from the scene.
So many questions still about this deadly attack, but we are hearing from intelligence sources on the ground here in the region that it appears it was an attack of opportunity based on terror groups operating in this region pretty close to where I'm standing right now, Fredricka.
That these are relatively small groups of armed militants with very loose affiliation to ISIS and al Qaeda, but that's one of the reasons American officials say they have soldiers on the ground here in Niger to try and stamp out that threat from militants before it expands to threaten the national governments and capitals in this region and of course, the U.S. as well.
So, right now, so many unanswered questions and this investigation by the Pentagon is ongoing, methodical as it should be. At the end of it, we should hopefully get the answers that we need -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. David McKenzie, thanks so much.
All right. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was in Africa this week following the deadly ambush in Niger, and she spoke exclusively with CNN's Elise Labott on the rising threat of terrorism in the region. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: You know, it's so important that everybody not just talk about the Middle East and how we have to be careful of the Middle East. You know, you see the actions that the administration has taken in the Middle East is all because we want to deal with the situation there, so we don't have to deal with it in the United States.
It is the same thing for Africa. We have to deal with the situation here on the ground so that we're not dealing with it in the United States. What you have to look at is these African countries and all countries, if they take care of their people, if they respect the voices of their people, then you get true democracy.
If they don't listen to the voices of their people, conflict will erupt, extremism will happen, and the United States will have to deal with it. This is all about making sure we don't get to that point.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: What if Secretary Tillerson says I've had enough, I've done what I need to do, and the president says, Nikki, I need you.
HALEY: I've made it very clear that I'm happy in New York.
LABOTT: You wouldn't take it.
HALEY: I would not take it.
LABOTT: Is it because you don't like the drama in Washington? You said that recently that, you know, it's just a lot of drama and you're able to do your role --
HALEY: I want to be where I'm most effective and I think what I've been able to do is be effective by communicating the U.S. strength, be effective by going to these areas on the ground and trying to resolve conflict. Being effective about really supporting what the president is trying to do, that's what I'm focused on. And I think that this is a role that has worked out well for me, and this is a role that I think has worked out well for the president.
So, I'm going to do the best job I can. That's what I've always done is try and give everything I've got to the role and to support the administration as long as I can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Straight ahead, Defense Secretary James Mattis with a message for North Korea, the U.S. does not want war. But as the rogue nation firmly rejects the idea of giving up its nuclear weapons, is a diplomatic resolution possible?
WHITFIELD: As General James Mattis wraps up his tour of Asia, he wants one thing to be understood, any attack by North Korea on the U.S. or its allies will be defeated. These comments follow the general's visit to the Demilitarized Zone and the North Korea's renewed threat of nuclear weapon testing.
It all comes ahead of President Trump's visit to the region next week where he will try to strengthen U.S. relations with other Asian countries. CNN's Will Ripley spoke to North Koreans about the president's upcoming trip.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Asia prepares for President Trump's landmark visit, North Korea has been uncharacteristically quiet. No missile launches in a month and a half. No nuclear tests, at least not yet.
Only North Korea's promise to send a clear message after Trump's menacing speech at the U.N. last month when he threatened to totally destroy North Korea. At the time, North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un vowed to tame the U.S. president with fire.
(Inaudible) is chief engineer of a baby food factory trying to maintain production levels despite U.N. sanctions over North Korea's nuclear program, but he says the nukes are here to stay.
President Trump knows nothing about the Korean nation, he says. Now he's asking us to give up our nuclear weapons. Ask anyone on the street and they'll say he's a lunatic. His words echo north Korean propaganda.
[11:40:07] Anti-Trump posters are all over Pyongyang. U.S. and North Korean officials say diplomacy has broken down as the rhetoric has revved up. Pushing two nuclear powers further down a dangerous path. Both sides not ruling out talks altogether, but their positions couldn't be farther apart.
On a visit Friday to the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said America's goal is not war but for a nuclear free Korean Peninsula. But with Pyongyang closer than ever to achieving what it considers a nuclear balance of power with the U.S., giving up nukes is a nonstarter.
(on camera): There are a lot of people around the world who think that by accumulating nuclear weapons, your country is putting itself at risk of total destruction.
(voice-over): They have the wrong information says (inaudible). Tell them to come to my country and see for themselves.
(on camera): Do you have hope that someday your leader, Kim Jong-un, could meet the U.S. president, Donald Trump?
(voice-over): No, not at all, she says. That meeting cannot happen. It will not happen because our Marshall promised to deal with that deranged lunatic with fire.
Ominous words, slowly simmering ever since. As Trump's visit to the region looms, many wonder if the situation is about to boil over. Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.
WHITFIELD: So much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. But first, last time Anthony Bourdain was in Sri Lanka there was a civil war going on. This week he returns to see how the culture and the food have changed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST: So it's been eight or nine years since I've been to this beautiful country filled with lovely people, incredible food, Sri Lanka. Last time I was here, let's put it this way, we couldn't see too much of the place. We were here in the middle of one of the most vicious, unrestrained conflicts you could imagine. Well, the war is over. What is Sri Lanka like now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Find out when you tune in to "PARTS UNKNOWN" tomorrow, 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time right here on CNN.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. An amazing story of survival, two women and their dogs have been rescued after spending nearly five months adrift in the Pacific Ocean. CNN's Dan Simon has their incredible story.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, it was supposed to be an amazing adventure between friends and their dogs, but about a month into it, they hit turbulence and when their boat was badly mangled, they thought they would never be found.
SIMON (voice-over): Two friends and their dogs rescued at sea. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava along with their dogs, Suz and Valentine, had been stranded for nearly five months.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I saw the gray boat on the edge of the horizon, my heart leapt because I knew that we were about to be saved, because I honestly believed we were going to die within the next 24 hours.
SIMON: It all began on May 3rd, a planned voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti, but a few weeks in they would run into bad weather, crippling the boat, the mast and the engine broken. Veering badly off course, daily distress calls were useless. They were too far away for anyone to hear. But at one point, they did have some company, sharks.
JENNIFER APPEL, RESCUED AT SEA: I went downstairs with the boys and we basically laid, huddled on the floor and I told them not to bark, because the sharks could hear us breathing. They could smell us.
SIMON: But even in despair and a hopeless feeling of never being found, there were some bright spots.
TASHA FUIAVA, RESCUED AT SEA: There's different sun rises and sunsets every day. Your alive, you're fed, you have water, your boys are happy and there is love.
SIMON: And then a miraculous sudden break, a Taiwanese fishing vessel spotted their boat and contacted the U.S. Coast Guard. The pair discovered 900 miles southeast of Japan. Thousands of miles away from Tahiti. The "USS Ashland" reaching them on Wednesday morning. They'll stay aboard until the vessel's next port of call.
SIMON: Thanks to a year's worth of dry goods, including oatmeal and pasta they were able to survive. Thankfully, they also had a water purifier. But the bottom line is the forethought to bring more supplies than they thought they needed is how they were able to live -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Amazing lesson. All right. Thank you so much, Dan Simon. All right, we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: Happy Halloween. President Trump inviting a group of trick or treaters to the oval office to celebrate Halloween on Friday and then take a look, here they are, children of, guess what, the White House press corps members.
About a dozen of the kids surrounding the desk of the president dressed up like superheroes and princesses while the president handed out candy and a few comments too, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You're going to grow up to be like your parents? Don't answer. That can only get me in trouble, that question. So, this is from the White House. See what that says? Who likes this? That's the good news, right? How does the press treat you? I'll bet you get treated better by the press than anybody in the world, right? I think so. Hi, sweetheart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Notice the marked silence from the little ones. Well, apparently, those media jabs and parenting jokes didn't go too well with some of the parents. According to some media reports, one little girl actually got very nervous and actually started crying.
[11:55:14] In tonight's episode of "The Wonder List," CNN's Bill Weir ventures to Alaska for a look at America's last wild frontier. Miners who want to drill for billions of dollars' worth of copper and gold could be putting the world's last great salmon run in jeopardy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, CNN HOST (voice-over): In the village, Lucy is tending to her smoke house and filleting her salmon. I tell her that in New York I pay $35 a pound. She tells me in New Stoyhook (ph), she pays $5 a year for all she can eat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The natives, we are allowed to get as much as we want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I normally put up between 70 to 150 kings in a summer.
WEIR: Wow. About a third of this village of 500 lives below the poverty line. The kind of folks who might benefit from a new mining economy. But over at Tim's house, one of the village elders, his mind is made up.
(on camera): People from the mine come to you and made an offer to try to get you on their side?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I told them, gee, golden dreams and poison streams, they don't mix.
WEIR: Are there any members of your community, any native Alaskans who want the mine, who think it's a good idea for jobs and money?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Money comes and goes. Grandkids, I'd rather see growing up the way I grew up. I don't want to let them see what were you thinking when you wanted that mine? What about us? What were you guys thinking as elders? Water is more precious than gold. This is our gold. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Bill Weir joining us now. So, Bill, did I hear him right, he said golden dreams and poisonous streams don't mix?
WEIR: Right, yes.
WHITFIELD: So does he feel -- and do they feel alone in that fight?
WEIR: Actually, it's a really interesting battle between fishing Republicans and mining Republicans up there on the last frontier. This salmon run, Bristol Bay, is this source of half the world's salmon gets caught there. It's a $1 billion industry for the natives and others alike.
But they did discover what may be the biggest gold and copper mine on the planet and to give you some perspective, right now, Bingham Canyon in Utah is the biggest manmade hole in the world. This one would be three times larger.
It could hold all of the mines in Alaska, and to dig it and blow it up, they need an explosive factory just dedicated to that, and it would create this sulfuric acid. The ground has so much sulfur in it.
Environmentalists, fishermen are worried it could ruin what is this incredible bounty that comes every summer. So, it's a real battle. It really comes down to how much of a pristine wilderness can we afford to hold on to while the world demands copper and gold to fuel the gadgets in our lives.
WHITFIELD: And so in addition to, you know, the precious salmon, the streams and the precious people who are living off it, you also encountered another group of existence there in the form of bears.
WEIR: That's right.
WHITFIELD: What was that like and -- well, you kind of look like you're really there amongst it there.
WEIR: Yes, that was not supposed to happen.
WHITFIELD: It seemed very threatening, but what's going on there?
WEIR: This is in Catmi. Incredible little park near Kodiak, Alaska. These bears are waiting for the salmon to arrive, will gorge themselves. They're really an indication of this incredibly healthy well managed ecosystem where that salmon feeds everything from eagles and foxes and bears to human beings.
But the Trump administration, which not only sort of paved the way for this mine to get applications after the Obama administration sort of tried to tap it down, they've also opened up new hunting. They've loosened hunting restrictions on bears.
So right now, real debate up there about how to manage wildlife, how to manage natural resources. The state was built on mines and oil wells, but in a crisis economically right now. A lot of people trying to preserve what is, you know, really last salmon run on the planet.
It used to run all the way up and down the east coast, but we dammed so many rivers. It is my personal favorite of this season in terms of beauty and characters and a hugely important story.
WHITFIELD: Wow, that's incredible natural resources. All right. Bill Weir, thanks so much. Of course, we're looking forward to yet another episode of "THE WONDER LIST." That's tonight 9:00 Eastern and Pacific.
We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right now.
Hello again, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right.