Return to Transcripts main page


California's Raging Wildfires; Jerusalem Decision Fallout; Franken Calls Out Trump And Moore In Resignation Speech; California Wildfire Drive More Than 190,000 From Homes; Theresa May Talks Brexit With European Union Leaders; Protest And Clashes After Trump Announcement. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired December 8, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause live in Ventura County. The scene of just one of six major wildfires which continue on across Southern California at this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay, live in Los Angeles. We're following protests across the Middle East in response to Donald Trump's Jerusalem decision. First, the breaking news that we want to bring you, though. Anticipation is building that a Brexit deal could be close. But if Prime Minister Theresa May is heading to Brussels for talks of the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, her Brexit Minister David Davis is traveling with her. We know that British negotiation has been under pressure to show progress on Brexit before an E.U. summit scheduled for next week. We're expecting a statement from the leader shortly and we will bring that to you as soon as they take the stage.

And turning now to our other major story, of course, those wildfires in California. Let's go over to John who's there in Ventura. John?

VAUSE: Well, Isha, all out. More 130,000 acres have been set ablaze since these fires began on Monday. The California Governor, Jerry Brown, has now formally requested a presidential emergency declaration for extra resources and extra funding because he says the scale and magnitude of these fires are beyond the ability and the capability of any local government authority. Parts of this region though were spared the worst of the Santa Ana on Thursday. Forecasters have warned of wind gusts up to 80-mile-per-hour. But with the relative calm, fighters managed to get the upper hand on certain fires. But elsewhere, new fires erupted like the lilac fire in San Diego.

Thousands of hectares have been burned and a number buildings and other structures have been destroyed. But the biggest and most destructive fire of all: the Thomas fire, here in Ventura County is now moving with devastating speed. Paul Vercammen is live for us this hour. He is in the seaside town of La Conchita here in Ventura County. So, Paul, we've had a situation that's been a relatively calm day. They've managed to get in front of this fire in a number of areas, but it still way too early to say that the worst is over. PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely is, John. Because as you know, with fires like this, you could have a smoldering stump, and that smoldering stump could suddenly send ashes showering into the air, they come cast getting down and start new spot fires elsewhere. But as you pointed out, relative calm right now in La Conchita. You don't see the burning glow, and the winds are the calmest they've been all week long. That, as you pointed out. A lot of firefighters did get an upper hand on the fire that has burned 150,000 acres -- that's the size of Orlando and Seattle combined. It has destroyed almost 150 homes, damaged another 85 others

Just to the north of me here in La Conchita, we saw them make a stand in the northwest quadrant of this fire. That's right along the Ventura County and Santa Barbara County lines. This was near Carpinteria. They used very, very skillful backfires, and they dug some fire lines, there have been some evacuations in the southern part of Carpinteria. They're taking all precautions, but it seems like there's a glimmer of hope there. There are some 2,500 firefighters on the line here. They've come from far away states Oregon and Nevada throughout California. They've needed all the help they can get. And as we often talk about on these fires, though, John, they have to be extremely careful not to deploy all resources on one fire. As you aptly put out earlier, there are six fires burning in California and you just can't risk leaving one area uncovered.

VAUSE: Paul, what has been uniquely terrifying, it seems, about these fires is just how close they've come to those major interstate highways -- the 405, the 101, also down in San Diego. We've been also told that Amtrak has canceled the train services because it's just not safe.

[01:05:03] VERCAMMEN: They have -- it's been menacing, I mean. And you'll learn things while you're cover these fires. Right now, the 101 is moving behind me and we have seen trains moving. One thing I never knew is there's the Amtrak police, that they were going along the track to make sure that nobody, including some journalists and looky-loos, didn't go crossing the tracks and jeopardize any of the train services.

Where actually in the La Conchita, just down where you are in Ventura, you may know that the train goes all the way up the San Francisco, and so does this 101 Freeway -- a major artery. And it has been closed at times, just complicating things. The traffic nightmare cannot be overexaggerated for anybody who's living outside California and can't comprehend it. It's bad, to begin with, and then doubly bad with these fires, and then the other thing.

It's nice right now but the air quality is just horrendous. And the school closures alone in Ventura County and Santa Barbara just mind- boggling. They've had to shut so many of them down right as high school students and college students are lurching into their final exams. There was one who joked with me off camera that he was actually glad that basically, he had to bail out of a college final the last couple days. John.

VAUSE: Well, it's a silver lining, I guess. Paul, thank you. We appreciate it. Let's get a little more now on the fires. Cal Fire's Captain Chris Reed joins us on the line. He is at Sylmar, where the creek fire continues to burn, but there is some good news there as well. Chris, this was not the day you expected. I guess, though, you're now what? 10 percent, 20 percent contained, I should say. Is that a turning point do you think?

CHRIS REED, CAPTAIN, CAL FIRE (through telephone): It is a turning point today and we did see a few flare-ups out there. The wind was variable. And as the wind would start kicking in, we get those flare- ups all around us. It is a turning point. 20 percent is actually a good number right now for the size of the fire. We're just over 15,000 acres on this. One thing that was hard for us on this fire, we weren't able to use those air tankers, those fixed-wing aircraft to get in there and put in those lines early on in the fire due to those erratic winds.

VAUSE: We're looking at wind gusts that will be less than the 80 miles or the 70 miles -- I think maybe around 20 or 30 miles in the next couple of days. That's good news on the one hand, but there's also -- it brings some bad news as well because I was being told that makes the fire less predictable. When it's being driven by those 80 miles -- I think we've just lost Chris, have we?

I think we've just lost Captain Christ Reed us? No? We've lost Chris. OK. Unfortunately, the question I was going to get Chris to talk about, one of the fire authorities is saying a little earlier than the good news is without those 80-mile-per-hour wind gusts, the fire no longer moves like freight train, at those speeds it's unstoppable, but at least you know where it's going.

When the wind gust died down, it still has the fuel from the wind, it still has -- it still moves the flames, but it is no longer as predictable. You just don't know when there's a wind change, where it's moving to. And so, fighting the fire and building a front, a defensive line, becomes a lot more complicated.

There's also this issue with the fatigue for firefighters, who've been on the frontline of so many, all these blazes for so long now that there is now a question of fatigue. Chris, I've been talking long enough to get you back on the line, which is great.

REED: We're back.

VAUSE: I just want to pick up on the issue of -- we're back. Just tell me though, these have been burning, they're massive fires, resources are stretched thin. When does fatigue become a problem for those crews who are on the front lines?

REED: Yes, we've -- this is day three for us on the creek fire, and we try and use our fresh crews here at L.A. County Fire. And we have three shifts, so we have out A Shift, B Shift, C Shift. We're trying to bring in those fresh crews from home to relieve those that had been on the fire line. We're working 24-hour shifts on the fire line. So, we have shifts that are rotating, and the fatigue is starting to set in. You can see the faces in the camp of those crews that are coming in and off the field trying to get in their breakfast before they have to go lay down and bed down and start their next operational period that next day.

And those crews that are here on the creek fire are very aware of the other fires that are burning around them. And we were talking about -- earlier, we heard you earlier saying that there are fires burning off throughout California, we have crews all from California assisting us here in L.A. County, and L.A. City with the creek fires. Those crews might a fire in their backyard that they're worried about, and their family members where they're traveling or coming from. So, it's affecting all of us in different ways here.

[01:10:06] VAUSE: And, you know, a lot of the firefighters I know, pretty much all of them, you had to drag them away if there's a fire still burning because they just don't want to leave. Very quickly, the issue of the winds, we're looking at calmer winds in the next couple of days. I was being told that's good news because, you know, the fire doesn't move as quickly like a freight train, but then it becomes a lot more unpredictable as it sort of moves around all sorts of directions, so you had to build a defensive line.

REED: As soon as we can get rid of the wind, we can get more ahead of this fire. What we're noticing on this fire -- what's its difference that fires in past practice, is it's such a dry December. Normally, the fuels are a little bit more wet, the relative humidity is up, and it's not burning as fast. When we do have the Santa Ana conditions here in Southern California, it's with a wet grass out there, and it doesn't cause these fires that we're, you know, right now in Southern California.

VAUSE: Very quickly, there also seems to be a high number of mandatory evacuations with regards to the fires over the last couple of days, is that because these fires are moving so quickly, you just have to get out ahead and then take those precautions.

REED: We do. And it's all about that wind on these fires. It'll push an ember a mile or so away from the head of the fire. That ember could turn into another fire itself, and then cause another ember -- and now you're playing leapfrog, and now you have multiple fires that all started in the same area. So, we advise those people in that area, if there is a fire, to visit our Web site even ahead of time, it's Read the "Ready, Set, Go". Get all those important documents, the medications you have at home, things that you need to bring with you and have them ready to go at a moment's notice. When and we say it's time to leave, that's not the time to pack.

VAUSE: Good advice, Chris. We're glad we got you back. Thank you for spending some time with us, most appreciated. Isha, back to you.

SESAY: All right. John, many thanks for that. OK. We're following violent reaction to the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

From Gaza to the West Bank, dozens were injured, Thursday, in protests there as Palestinians called for three days of rage. Israeli security forces used water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets against the protesters. The demonstrators held rocks and burned tires. In Oman, Jordan, loud protests outside the U.S. embassy. Some

demonstrators holding signs, calling for Trump announcement: the decision of insult and American is a plague. Those are pictures of President Trump with an "x" over him. Let's go to our experts that are keeping a close eye where (INAUDIBLE) could become even more violent with more protest.

Let's go straight to the region. CNN's Nic Robertson joins us from outside of Damascus gate entrance to Jerusalem's old city. Nic, good to see you once again. So, as we made clear, Hamas has called for a mass protest after noon prayers. It is just after 9:00 a.m. from where you are. Set the scene for us, what are you seeing in terms of security presence?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There is a security presence. The police have said that there is additional security in and around the old city of Jerusalem today. However, they're also saying that there are no age restrictions for people attending prayers today.

That was a concern that there would be a limitation cutting off, you know, people who were between 48 and younger, down to about 18. Those people would be prevented from going to prayers today. That is not the case, at least to say, that everyone can go to prayers. I've just been walking around the old city there, and where yesterday, the stores were shuttered because people were concerned about trouble.

There was some protest here of this particular gate, the Damascus gate, yesterday. It didn't turn violent, not as violent as we saw across of the parts of the West Bank. But seems to be happening here, we're seeing small traders setting up stores here, groups of tourists who are arriving to go take a look at the old city.

It seems to be, given what the police are saying and what we're seeing here in the way that the street and you, sort of, know the situation here very well are taking the temperature, is that they are at the moment feeling comfortable enough that they can set out their store, that there isn't going to be trouble violence and trouble. Of course, that can all change, but what the police are saying is that they are prepared to handle any protests if they do come up.

SESAY: And that being said, the (INAUDIBLE) any indication what that response would look like? I mean, what is the -- what is the Israeli position on, you know, any kind of sudden eruption of trouble in and around the old city?

[01:15:04] ROBERTSON: Yes. They say that they would control it. And we know what that looks like, it would be an escalation. For example, here, yesterday, there were police forces to control the crowd. The additional policeman brought in pushing and shoving people arrest. And today, you could that, you know, that's the potential for it to escalate where tear gas could be used, where rubber bullets could be used, where potentially live rounds could be used. That could be the level of -- the level of escalation. Ant that's what the -- and that's what the Police Spokesman, Mickey Rosenfield, told me yesterday, that whatever happened they have experienced it before, and that they, that they can control it. The sense here at the moment is, is that an escalation like that isn't

going to be required today. It would've been -- one interpretation applied, would've, to the situation today. Would have been that if the police had made age restrictions and limited the number of people and age of people that could attend the Friday prayers here today, that would've been felt by some people as a potential provocation. And then, and that would've translated into, you know, into the greater potential for an escalation and a flare-up of trouble on the streets here. So, at the moment, the expectation seems to be said -- and I say seems to be, because it's still early in the day, seems to be being set that the prayers will pass off without incident. But again, it's early in the day, and this is the moment that everyone has been most concerned about since President Trump's announcement on Wednesday.

SESAY: Yes, it certainly is concerning that people take to the streets and clashes will ensue. And with that, there's a question that has been on the mind of many, which is as -- you know, if people take to the streets in large numbers, if there are unfortunate scenes of violence, is there any real expectation on the part of Palestinians, of leaders, all of the people that would take to the streets that these protests will advance their cause for their own state? I mean, what's -- I mean, I guess, what's the endgame or is there one?

ROBERTSON: Sure. I mean, people I was talking to here at the protests yesterday said they were protesting because they wanted to show their frustration with their own leadership with the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, that they feel has been weak in this situation. They thought that his statement following President Trump's announcement was relatively weak.

Certainly, some of his senior negotiators on his team were much stronger in their condemnation of what President Trump has said. That they were saying that this was the end of the peace process on based on the two-state solution, that this was President Trump's worst ever decision. So, there was very strong condemnation, but the people we talked to did have a frustration with their own leadership. But also, what angry President Trump's decision thought that it was trampling their rights, that this would hurt the possibility of bringing a lasting peace here.

So, what were they trying to achieve whether through those protest, what do they think that the mechanism is forgetting to a peace agreement? They told me that they didn't know but they did think that the two-state solution, that idea should be forgotten, that they need a new leadership as well who's been, you know, who can negotiate. So, there some people don't have a -- if they come out on the streets, it's not because they have a clear path if they want to achieve through negotiations, it's because they want to express anger and frustration.

SESAY: Very valuable insight there. Nic Robertson joining us there from Damascus Gate, the entrance to the old city of Jerusalem. Thank you so much, Nic, very much appreciated. All right. We're going to talk about the breaking news that's just

come into us here at CNN. British Prime Minister, Theresa May, arrived in Brussels just a short time ago -- for Brexit talks -- with the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker. We're expecting the two to make a statement shortly. British negotiators have been under a great amount of pressure to show progress on Brexit before an E.U. summit next week. We're hearing that there has been some movement on talks. We're going to find out and bring that to you. So, stay with us.

[01:19:06] In the meantime, let us pause here and take a very quick break. U.S. Senator Al Franken announces his resignation after claims of sexual misconduct, but he didn't leave without taking a few parting shots. We will tell you what he said.


SESAY: Well, embattled U.S. Senator Al Franken says he's stepping down. Several women have accused the Democrat of sexual misconduct, and lawmakers from his own party called on him to resign. He's denying some of the accusations, but it's hard to deny pictures like this. It appears to show reaching for the breasts of news anchor Leeanne Tweeden; she alleges Franken forcibly kissed and groped her on a 2006 USO Tour. Here's what Franken said, Thursday, about some of the accusations.


SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: Over the last few weeks, a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions have affected them. I was shocked. I was upset. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true, others I remember very differently.


SESAY: For more, joining me here in L.A.: Democratic Strategist, Caroline Heldman; and Republican Strategist, Charles Moran. Welcome to you both once again. Caroline, to you, he says -- Senator Franken says, some of the accusations aren't true, the others I remember differently. Clearly, an angry Al Franken giving his goodbye there, but he also said this referencing what he calls them, I guess, the double standard. Take a listen.


FRANKEN: There is some irony in the fact that I am leaving, while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the oval office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls, campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.


SESAY: Referencing President Trump, and, of course, Roy Moore, who's running for that Senate seat for Alabama. And Caroline, there are other -- other Democrats who actually have that view, that Franken shouldn't have resigned. And it's bad for that -- that why should he resign when Republicans are holding their own close? What say you?

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I don't hold that view. I actually think that the Democratic Party is only as strong as its principles, and I am happy that Franken stepped down, I'm happy that Conyers stepped down. I think that any man who's in a position of power, and it comes out that there are multiple allegations of sexual harassment of two sexual violence, they don't -- they're not fit to hold public office, and that absolutely includes President Trump and it includes Roy Moore if he's elected. But there's a clear double standard here that Democrats are putting principle above -- in the case of Roy Moore, pedophilia, but that's just not happening on the Republican's side.

SESAY: Charles, this is an argument you're going to hear a lot of, now that Franken is gone, Conyers is gone, the party is clear for Democrats to take on Republicans and say, are you really the party of family values when you've got these people in your midst?

CHARLES MORAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I just think it's funny -- the lack of short-term memory here. Just a few weeks ago when we first heard about the allegations against Roy Moore, the entire Republican National Establishment was tripping all over themselves trying to get him to step down. We are trying to figure out every maneuver, possible to get his name off the ballot. The Republican Party stood --

HELDMAN: So, what's changed?

MORAN: -- stood up very -- well, it's called we're good. It's called the law. And unfortunately -- no, no.

HELDMAN: It's called that the RNC is now giving amongst $200,000 the president's behind him, Mitch McConnell has flipped.

MORAN: Again, this is part of a strategy to try to drag Donald Trump and larger --

HELDMAN: No, you all are supporting him. You're putting party above pedophilia.

MORAN: No, the Republican Party -- just last week, the L.A. Times did a great piece talking how Nancy Pelosi was having a double standard on her own. So, then, they're saying we need to call to -- you know, we to get Republicans to resign --

HELDMAN: And Franken is gone and Conyers is gone.

[01:25:11] MORAN: But Democrats, the Democrats are -- the Democrats get a double standard. The media has consistently come around now the scene that the Democrats are the party of the hypocrisy and the double standard.

HELDMAN: How are we hypocrites? Are -- are --

MORAN: All I'm saying -- look at the last round of the last Sunday show. Democrats are still circling the wagons, and now inserting to a rape issue, and to look at some of the conversations, the rank and file Democrats -- rank and file Democrats are trying to figure out how to protect their --

SESAY: You could not get to agree on this one, I think you're going to see it very differently. But before I let you go, because sadly it is a jampacked show, as much as I'd like to watch you keep doing that.


SESAY: I do very want to quickly flash up some poll numbers, because I want to get your views on them super quickly because there's a new poll out by Pure Research and it basically takes a look the president's approval rating, which currently stands at 32 percent with 63 percent -- or 63 percent, as you see there, disapproval. Lowest level in any poll on his approval number since he took office. Charles, what's behind the poor numbers?

MORAN: All I'm saying is, if the good thing that Roy Moore is up for election next week and not Donald Trump, he's got another three years until he has to go, and other year until the Republican majorities get re-elected in the House and the Senate. You know this is a tough time. We are going through a lot of tough changes. Donald Trump is clearly fulfilling a lot of his campaign promises, it's made a lot of people happy, it's made a lot of people angry. And we've seen -- you know, I think we're seeing a determined left who is going to be driving out and who are angry, and I think that -- again, we have a lot more time to go until the next round of elections next year, and we'll see what happens next week in Alabama.

SESAY: I'm going to take a wild guess and suggest Caroline has a different reason -- the numbers.

HELDMAN: It's -- they're historically low. We've never seen it this low for a president in the modern age. I think it has a lot to do with covfefes, constant problems with, you know -- policy issues he hasn't actually passed anything major, but making mistakes on Twitter, the possible collusion with Russia, the possible obstruction of justice, insulting native Americans. I mean, you name it. Any day of the week, this man is putting a foot in mouth, and that is why he not presidential, and that is why his poll numbers are historically low.

SESAY: We will end it with a foot in mouth. To you both, Charles Moran, Caroline Heldman, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

MORAN: Thank you.

SESAY: Thanks. Short and sweet. All right. Quick break. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., anger and protest reaction, red hot as the (INAUDIBLE) on Jerusalem.


[01:30:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone! You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay, the headlines this hour. Wildfire across Southern California have caused more than 190,000 people to evacuate and destroyed hundreds of homes and other building since Monday. Officials say dry conditions and fierce winds are exacerbating the situation and making it easier for new fires to get started like this one you're looking at in San Diego County. The British Prime Minister Theresa May is talking with -- talking Brexit rather with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels.

British negotiators have been under great amount of pressure to show progress on Brexit, calls for E.U. Summit next week, we are expecting a statement of the leaders shortly. Anger seating of the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. U.S. and Israeli flags were burned in what's called three days of rage. In Pakistan, one of the groups taking part had been banned in the country and declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. Well, let's get more perspective on the U.S. moves and reaction. Joining me here in L.A. Terry McCarthy, the President, and CEO of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. Terry, good to have you with us. So, so far we have seen demonstrations but they have been on the smaller side than expected. What's your read on that?

TERRY MCCARTHY, PRESIDENT & CEO, LOS ANGELES WORLD AFFAIRS COUNCIL: So I was seeing Nick Robertson talking about this earlier. And I think that there isn't a stimulus here. So there's no embassy in Jerusalem, won't be for six months, a year, two years. What are they actually going to protest about? The peace process hasn't been much in the last few years. So despite the fact that this is a very provocative move, what are they actually going to protest about? Where are they going to protest? I think that's going to take anyway the real anger that some people have feared would happen.

SESAY: So that being said, do you have fears for the scenes of the afternoon prayers or do you expect -- it's the Middle East, it's really hard to ever predict anything.

MCCARTHY: Very hard to predict.

SESAY: It's very hard to predict. It changes on a dime. But I mean I guess the question is are you concerned that we're going to see something overly you know, hard to control?

MCCARTHY: Sure, I'm concerned. I would say that I think that the likelihood of any large-scale support from the Arab neighbors is pretty low. You know, it's a dirty low secret in the Middle East that the Arab governments have not really supported the Palestinian cause, and that's what really suited them for domestic reasons. And right now they've got much bigger issues to think about, the thing about Iran, the thing about Yemen, the thing about Syria, the thing about ISIS. The Palestinian issue is a pretty low priority for most Arab neighbors, and so the Palestinians are not going to get a lot of support from their -- from their neighbors.

SESAY: And we have heard the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying he's looking Arab league to take a strong stance. But war position could they take?

MCCARTHY: Well, again, there's no real peace process that they can support. SESAY: Exactly.

MCCARTHY: They will make pro forma statements as some of them have already made that you know, this is not helping the general move toward peace in the Middle East. Frankly, on the ground, there isn't a lot they can do.

SESAY: OK, so that being said, we've also heard from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that they working persuade other countries to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, one of their likelihood. What's the likelihood of success on other fronts?

MCCARTHY: Well in terms that, that's sort of putting the cart before the horse, right. I mean, if you're going to have a peace process, Jerusalem will be part of that negotiating process. To try and go out in front of that and say recognize it as the capital of Israel and then we'll talk is a bit sort of out of sequence I think.

SESAY: Yes, you would say so but the U.S. has done that and with that being the reality now, what does it say to you the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu now is maybe doubling down in saying I'm going to try and get other countries to do the same? Does it indicate that he's not really interested in talks?

MCCARTHY: It's kind of -- the idea that Jared Kushner is pushing is that the peace process was frozen so it needed some kind of shock treatment to get it back online. But that was kind of like saying, OK, we've got somebody suffering from cancer, and you know what, we're going to break their legs and we're going to tell them the shock of breaking is going to help with cancer. I don't see how the that really works. So I think again, the sequencing is wrong here. And I don't see anyone following the U.S. here in recognizing Jerusalem as an Israeli capital right now. i

SESAY: Can the U.S. remain in this role of being the, you know, the broker, the negotiator? I know that Mahmoud Abbas has said that basically, they don't want to work with them anymore. It's done. Does anyone have the power to expel them? I mean --

MCCARTHY: In the end of day, the U.S. will be part of whatever negotiation happens. And unless we think we'll end up with some kind of fratricidal war. There will be some negotiation at some point down the line and the U.S. will be part of that. My sense is that it probably will go to a much more regional type negotiation. In the end of the day, one of the -- one of the root causes for the problems in Israel and the Palestine is the Iran issue because Iran supports Hezbollah. Hezbollah were threats to Israel. Israel fears that is a security threat and that hinders them moving forward in any other peace negotiations.

So I think that in the end of the day, you will see a much bigger negotiation trying to bring in Iran, Saudi, Israel and then you get the Palestinian issue settled as a by-product of a much bigger Middle Eastern peace negotiation. I don't think that you're going to see the U.S. pushing through a real peace deal with Israelis and Palestinian when you don't have the leadership. And these are points that people make for some time. You don't have the leadership in either Israel or Palestinian territories where they are willing to make that deal now. so you're kind of waiting for something some (INAUDIBLE) to rearrange the players. And I think you have to take it out. You need a wide focus on this. The narrow focus, I don't think -- I don't is going to work.

[01:35: 56] SESAY: Terry, I appreciate it. Thank you so much. I appreciate the input as expected. Much more to come, thank you.

All right, let's turn our attention right now to the wildfires burning here in California and cross over to John Vause. John, what's happening where you are?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, the wind is calm. It's a very still night right now. And of course, the hope is that that continues. The fear is that those winds will come back. But because there has been a relative lull in the weather conditions at least in some parts, that now means these mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted in some of the fire zones. And many of the residents who are forced to leave, well, they're now heading back home. Deana DePompa is one of them. She joins us on the line. So, Deana, the good news is you get to go home. The House is still there but boy you've had a couple of really tough days. How are you coping?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, John, we're good. We're so fortunate and we've just been counting our blessings. We have a lot of neighbors that weren't lucky as us and we're just so, so thankful for the firefighters and the police officers that just have been at it for the last 72 hours.

VAUSE: Yes. Take us back to how to how this all started because it was Tuesday, you're at work. Your boyfriend's sister calls you. She says the neighborhood is being evacuated. You get here. You get there, there's no sign Chris, but there's a lot of fire everywhere. Take it from there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we had to run actually a few miles to get to our house because by the time we -- I was in Downtown L.A. and by the time I got towards the neighborhood, all the streets were blocked already. So we had to run on foot and once we got up to the house we just took what we could. It was just a few items but Chris was -- soon followed which was just a blessing. And he got up here and we set up the fire hose, just stuck it in our pool and we just wet everything we could until the Police Department came up and said we have to leave the house and it was very frightening.

VAUSE: Yes, you headed off to I guess to stay with some friends. So explain to people, because obviously this is you know, a lot of people are going through this but a lot of people have no idea what it really is like to be lying there in bed and to be thinking about everything in that house and those flames are so close and it's like what did I forget? What did I leave behind? You know, will it still be there? Try to explain that for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really terrible. We have so many heirlooms here at the house. Chris' grandfather's wedding table is the table that we use at the house. And Chris is also a carpenter as well as a photographer. And he made all of our furniture. We just moved here about three months ago and about 80 percent of our furniture has been put together by his hands and hard work. And just imagining all of that disappearing was just heartbreaking. You know, along with the things that you just -- you forget, like you know, your grandmother's fur coat or the jewelry that you forgot. And it's just stuff at the end of the day but, of course, you don't want to -- I mean you just -- you just don't want to lose that stuff.

VAUSE: Yes, it's part of you know a record of your life as all that stuff obviously means so much. And all that stuff is still there which is fantastic and you guys are well. And (INAUDIBLE) the cat. We should also mention back home and safe and probably very, very happy as well. You know, Deana thanks for being with us. We're glad this worked out so well for you.

OK. Let's check in on -- with Derek Van Dam for the weather forecast for the next couple of days. But Derek, before we get to that explain to us how it is that you know, these unprecedented Santa Ana winds with the wind gust of up to 80 miles per hour, and you know, Armageddon-like conditions just didn't quite pan out.

[01:40:07] DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: You know, it was no walk in the park yesterday John, Thursday, as wind gusts did climb near to 100 kilometers per hour. However, the winds never made its way down to the valley floor. This is what happened. We have our strong area of high pressure. That's responsible for creating the squeeze with the pressure gradient funneling in the Santa Ana winds from the mountains down to the valley floors. But this particular time, the strongest winds, the strongest Santa Ana winds were actually near the top of the ridgeline.

So the top of the mountains across Southwestern California, you can see latest wind gusts in fact near the valley floor. It's only at 19 kilometers per hour. And you him John shot just a moment ago that the wind was not all that blustery. So what was the result of the spread of the Thomas Fire and the other fires that are ongoing across Southwestern California? Well, it all has to be -- has to do with the topography and the steepness of the slopes and the dry vegetation. It has been incredibly dry across that area. We have to send it back to the studio to Isha, well hand things over to her now.

SESAY: All right, Derek, very much appreciate it. Interrupting because we want to take you now to Brussels where the British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are speaking about Brexit. Let's listen.

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: -- for the work over the last weeks and months. We discussed and joined with (INAUDIBLE) by the two negotiators. Prime Minister May has assured me that the test backing over the U.K. government. On that basis, I believe we have now made a breakthrough we needed. Today's result is, of course, the compromise. It is the result of a long and intense discussion between the commission negotiators and those of the U.K. As in any negotiation, both sides have to listen to each other, (INAUDIBLE) position and show a willingness to compromise. This was a difficult negotiation for the European Union as well for United Kingdom.

On Wednesday, last Wednesday, the college of commissioners has gave me a mandate to conclude the negotiation of the joint report and it had to be concluded today, not next week, today because next week we'll have European Union Council. And in order to allow our council to prepare in the best way possible the meeting of the European Council yet to make a deal today. On the basis on the mandate which was given to me by the European Council, the Commission has just formally decided to recommend to the European Council that sufficient progress has now been made on the strict terms of the divorce.

The decision on sufficient progress will be in the hands of the 27 heads of states or governments. I'm hopeful, confident, that they will share our appraisal and allow us to move on the next phase of the negotiations. On Monday, last Monday, I also met with European parliaments and representatives from the start of the process. Cooperation between the European Parliament and the Commission has been closed and our position closely (INAUDIBLE). These negotiations can only be successful if we take an inclusive approach. That's exactly what we did. Without going into all of the detail, allow me to touch on what today's agreement means (INAUDIBLE). Today after 9:30 my friend (INAUDIBLE) will be available to explain all the details of the agreements we reach today.

A few remarks on (INAUDIBLE) rights. First, in this negotiation, citizens have always come first. It has been a of great importance for the commission to make sure that E.U. the citizens in the U.K. will be protected after the U.K. leave the European Union. New citizens have made important life choices on the assumption that the United Kingdom was a member of the European Union. Brexit creates a great uncertainty for those citizens and for their families.

[01:45:07] Today, we bring back the certainty. The commission's negotiators have made sure that the choices made by the E.U. citizens living in the U.K. will be protected. We have made sure that their rights will remain the same after the U.K. has left the European Union. This is, in particular, the case for E.U. citizens right to live, work, and study, E.U. citizen's rights to family identification. The protection of the rights for E.U. citizen children and the right to have the attention and other Social Security benefits.

We make sure that the (INAUDIBLE) the procedures may be cheap and should be similar. This is an issue for which the commission would pay particular -- pay particular attention when drafting the resolve (INAUDIBLE). The same goes for U.K. citizens living in E.U. 27. On the setting of the cons, the Prime Minister said in remarkable foreign speech that the United Kingdom would almost get (INAUDIBLE) including beyond 2020. This was indeed a line by line process, but she has been as good as -- she was negotiating in gentleman manner and I'm very grateful, Prime Minister, for that. On Ireland, E.U. has consistently supported to go peace and reconciliation and trying in the good fight.

The European Union has to make the priority to protect the peace process on the island. I have the direct contact with (INAUDIBLE) over the last days including last night and including last negotiations, we have covered yesterday with our Irish friends. The U.K. has made significant commitments on the avoidance of the half border after it's been work from European Union. All of the E.U. 27 stands firmly behind Ireland and behind the peace process. Let me clear, we still have a lot of work to do. The joint report is not to withdraw and win. That agreement needs to be drafted by the negotiators on the basis we have read yesterday and today and then approved by the council and certified by the U.K. Parliament, and the European part.

(INAUDIBLE) 34 days ago, the British people voted to leave the European Union. 20 -- 49 days ago, the United Kingdom notified its intention to leave the European Union. And in form within 77 days, United Kingdom will do just that. I will always pre-set about this development. But now, we must start looking for the future. The future in which the United Kingdom will be until we made close friends and allies. The Prime Minister discussed the need for transitional period and we declared (INAUDIBLE) meeting to our join vision, to the deep and close partnership.

It is crucial for us all that we continue working closely together on issues such as great research security and others. We will take things one step at a -- at a time starting with next week's European Council. But today, I'm hopeful that we are now almost at the second phase of this challenging negotiation. And we can do this jointly on the basis of trust, renewed trust, determination and with the perspective of the renewed friendship and (INAUDIBLE)

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Well, thank you, Jean-Claude. We've been working extremely hard this week and as you've all seen, it hasn't been easy for either side. When we met on Monday, we said a deal was within reach. What we have arrived at today represents a significant improvement and I'm grateful to the negotiating teams led by David Davis and Michel Barnier for their efforts. Getting to this point has required give and take on both sides. And I believe that the joint report being published is in the best interests of the whole of the U.K. I very much welcome the prospects of moving ahead to the next phase to talk about trade and security and discuss the positive and ambitious future relationship that is in all of our interests.

[01:50:02] I've consistently said that we want to build a decent special partnership with E.U. as we implement the decision of the British people to leave at the end of March 2019. Doing so will provide clarity and certainty for businesses in the U.K. and the E.U. and crucially for all our citizens. The deal we've struck will guarantee the rights of more than 3 million E.U. citizens living in the U.K. and of a million U.K. citizens living in the E.U. E.U. citizens living in the U.K. will have their rights enshrined in U.K. law and enforced by British courts. They will be able to go on living their lives as before.

I was clear in France that we're a country that honors our obligations. After some tough conversations, we've now agreed the settlement that is fair to the British taxpayer. It means that in the future we will be able to invest more in our priorities at home such as housing, schools, and the NHS. In Northern Ireland, we will guarantee there will be no hard border. And we will uphold the Belfast Agreement. And in doing so, we will continue to preserve the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.

We've taken this week -- time this week to strengthen and clarify this part of the agreement, following discussions with unionist in Northern Ireland and across the U.K. The (INAUDIBLE) Leo Varadkar and I spoke yesterday and we both committed that there should be no barriers either north, south, or east, west. And I believe this agreement delivers that. To underline the importance of these principals I'm writing today to the people of Northern Ireland to set out our approach. Millions of jobs depend on the future trading relationship we will determine. And I'm optimistic about the discussions ahead. But in the meantime, reaching this agreement now ensures that businesses will be able to make investment decisions based on an implementation period that offers welcome certainty.

I will be seeing President Tusk shortly and I look forward to the publication of his guidelines. I also look forward to next week's European Council meeting where I hope and expect we will be able to get the endorsement of the 27 to what is a hard-won agreement in all our interests. Thank you, everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have time for some questions. Let me start with Eurich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime Minister, this was a difficult negotiation like the President said. But it's just the beginning, the first stage, and Israel is the beginning of a very long and complex negotiation. And it was already very difficult. Did ever the question come to your mind that maybe after all, this whole Brexit affair is a very bad idea for any second. Thank you.

MAY: In 2016, the British people were given in a referendum the opportunity to choose whether to stay in the European Union or not. Parliament was united across all parties in parliament. A significant majority agreed that that decision would be given to the British people. The British people voted and they voted to leave the European Union. And I believe it's a matter of trust and integrity in politicians. I believe the people should be able to trust that their politicians will put into place what they have determined. And that's exactly what we're doing and we will be leaving the European Union.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I have Adam from BBC?

ADAM FLEMING, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BBC NEWS: Hi, Adam Fleming from the BBC. Morning to both of you. Forces the biggest compromise, the other side has made to get you to this point today? Was it a champagne breakfast?

MAY: This was a question, actually, of coming together and working together for a report and agreements that were in the best interests of all sides. It's been finding the way through that enables us to deliver to citizens, to deliver on the financial settlement and also crucially to deliver in relation to Northern Ireland that agreement on no hard border but also respecting the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom. That's what we've been working to, that's what I believe the joint report sets out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And (INAUDIBLE) from the German News Agency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Morning. Mr. Prime -- I'm sorry. Mr. Prime Minister, the arrangement seems to me a special status for Northern Ireland. How come -- OK. You're a part of the DUP accepted that and will it not mean that the rest of the U.K. will also remain in the single market.

[01:54:53] MAY: No, it doesn't actually mean what you suggested. We're very clear. If you look at the agreement and the text of the joint report, it says that we will work to achieve the relationship, the trading relationship between the U.K. and the European Union that we want to see that we believe would also be a good trading relationship for Northern Ireland. If that is not the case then we will look for specific solutions to what are the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland.

Everybody recognizes that the Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. with a land border with a country that will be remaining within the European Union that is a set of unique circumstances and indeed, they're already unique circumstances and specific solutions for Northern Ireland. There's a single electricity market across the island of Ireland for example. But I'm confident that we can in negotiating the future trade relationship, we can ensure that we both won't have a hard border in Northern Ireland but that we will retain the economic integrity of the single market of the United Kingdom.


MARK STONE, EUROPE CORRESPONDENT, SKY NEWS: Good morning. (INAUDIBLE) Mark Stone from Sky news. Prime Minister, can I ask you in simple terms, what is change between Monday's launch and now which allows you to say a deal is done now and you couldn't on Monday. And President Juncker, for you if I may, specifically on the European call of justice. It was one of the big sticking points. The Prime Minister says now that E.U. citizens in the U.K. will be under U.K. law and U.K. courts. Is that correct? And are you happy with that?

MAY: Shall I take it?


MAY: On the -- on the first point, as we both said when we stood here on Monday, there were a couple of issues that we still had to finalize as we went through the last few days. But as I said in the remarks that I've just made, we have -- one of the things you can't see is a strengthening of the commitments in relation to Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. I think that's important, I think that's helpful.

So, within the joint report, you will see the commitment both to no hard border, between Ireland and the Northern Ireland but also that we ensure that we retain that constitutional integrity and of economic integrity of the United Kingdom.

JUNCKER: For you citizens, the European Court of Justice will still be competent. Michel Barnier will explain you later in detail what is it about because it could take too much time to explain this in detail.


SESAY: All right. There you have it. That press conference called by British Prime Minister Theresa May, the European Commissioner President Jean-Claude-Juncker to announce that they have reached an agreement which once a report has been submitted to the European Council should clear the path for the next stage of Brexit talks to begin. You may remember that there had been negotiations underway all of this week. Negotiation that ground to a halt all of a sudden when the DUP of Northern Ireland essentially rejected what was on the table saying that they would not be party to any deal that led to a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

They have resolved that issue, they've also resolved the other issues that were outstanding in these talks. That of the divorce bill and citizens' rights. That's all been taken care of. We're going to break down what we heard in Brussels after a very quick break. Stay with us. Lots more still to come.