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Moore, Jones In Final Sprint For Tuesday Election; Alabamians Wrestle With Moore Accusations Ahead Of Election; Critical 48 Hours At Mar-A-Lago Could Hold Answer; Some Republicans Attack Integrity Of Mueller Probe; Thomas Fire Jumps County Line: Burns 170k-Acres; Gov. Brown Tells Resident: "This Is Your New Normal"; Thomas Fire Is 10th Largest In State History; Violent Protest Near U.S. Embassy In Lebanon; Security Concerns For Olympic Winter Games Grow. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 10, 2017 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:02] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: We have a team of correspondents and political commentators covering this critical Senate race. Let's begin with Kaylee Hartung who is following Roy Moore's campaign. Kaylee, good afternoon to you. Moore agreed to give a TV interview in Alabama, but he has not been seen publicly. What's the strategy here?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, as people on Moore's campaign has told me if Moore had it his way, there would be no campaigning on Sundays because that's the Lord's Day. This man of faith not wanting to disrupt people Sundays with the get out to vote campaign, but the closer we've gotten to this election, people tell me Moore has let up on that theory.

So today, folks are launching door-to-door canvassing out of this Birmingham field office behind me, but with the caveat that they weren't taking to the streets until 1:00 p.m. local when folks would have been home from church and they'll be off the streets by 5:00 p.m. this afternoon before folks to be going to evening services.

Folks here tell me that phone call is not a priority of the campaign today if they are having interaction with people in Alabama. They want it to be face-to-face. And when I asked the question of what the strategy would be on Monday, that last push to Election Day, this campaign told me they weren't comfortable sharing their strategy with me because they didn't want the Jones campaign to have any understanding of the particular areas in this state that they would be targeting.

A lot has been made of the fact that we haven't seen Roy Moore on the campaign trail since last Tuesday in that spirited event with former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon down in Fairhope, Alabama. We did get a chance to see him on television this morning with the voice of Alabama politics show. Where host Bill Britt was very friendly to Moore and even took opportunities to mock Democratic opponent Doug Jones at times.

We know that the next time we will see Moore out in public among the people will be tomorrow. Another appearance with Bannon this time in Midland City down in south Alabama. Today we are told, Dave, he is spending the day in Montgomery with friends and volunteers of his campaign for a Christmas party.

BRIGGS: All right, Kaylee Hartung, thank you.

Let's check in on Moore's challenger Doug Jones. Jones trying to become the first Democrat to win the Senate seat in Alabama in 25 years. Alex Marquardt is at a Doug Jones campaign event in Birmingham. Alex, good to see you. What's Jones closing argument these final few hours?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the main argument, Dave, really is get out the vote. What you're looking at here is the fairly cramped headquarters for Doug Jones here in Birmingham. They are about to have a rally here with Doug Jones and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of the big names who have come down to Alabama this weekend to help Jones get out the vote, get people out to vote, and particularly the African-American electorate.

As you said, one of the main messages that Jones will have and has had on the campaign trail over the past few days and weeks that this is the first chance that Alabamians have to send a Democrat real chance to the Senate and around quarter century. They have sense an opening because of these allegations against Roy Moore in the past few weeks.

And so, the Jones campaign feels that there are a lot of votes up for grabs whether it's with undecideds, moderate Republicans, women, and African-Americans, as I mentioned. Now on the campaign trail, Jones has taken relatively mainstream Democratic positions whether it's on the economy, on immigration, on health care. But the strongest argument that he has is that he's not Roy Moore.

So, they have not shied away from highlighting these allegations against Moore whether it's on the campaign trail or in ads. Jones really trying to capitalize on the fact that these allegations could really strip away some votes from Roy Moore and really put himself in a position to head to Washington after the vote on Tuesday.

BRIGGS: All right, Alex Marquardt there in Alabama, thank you.

Joining me now to talk about the Alabama race, Republican Consultant John Thomas, he worked with the Luther Strange campaign, a Democratic Strategist Dave Jacobs. And John thanks for being here on a Sunday afternoon. Let's start with you. On the Republican side, John, there is -- what's best do you think for the Republican Party in the long- term? Get beyond the tax vote in the long run. What's best for the party?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I've been -- not been a fan of Roy Moore even prior to these allegations. So, you know, I'm privately rooting that he doesn't win. But in long-term, if he does win which it looks like he will, it is a brand challenge for the Republicans. I mean, smart Democratic strategists like Dave over here are going to use this hang us as we go in mid-terms. But it looks like Republicans like Donald Trump are willing to strike this bargain in order to get key critical votes on things like health care and tax reform. And look, it's both party duets. Democrats are willing to vote for the Clintons when they knew about rape allegations back in the '90s. So it's not the first time this has happened in politics.

[15:05:3] BRIGGS: Dave, would a Roy Moore win be good long-term in 2018 for the Democratic Party?

DAVE JACOBS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. The fact of the matter is if Roy Moore goes to the Senate and Mitch McConnell and Republican senators don't immediately expel him for the Senate, Democrats are going to use this as an opportunity to capitalize on the stain that is Roy Moore. He is the embodiment of a sexual predator.

The fact that Republicans like Donald Trump, the RNC are gluing themselves to Roy Moore, Democrats are going to inject this message and this painted brand into battle ground districts for the House and the Senate as we approach 2018.

BRIGGS: How effective do you think that argument will be?

JACOBS: I think it will be incredibly compelling. Now, the Democrats have the moral high ground. They pushed aside some of the Democrats who have been associated with sexual misconduct and now Democrats get to campaign on a women empowerment message.

THOMAS: Yes. Dave --

JACOBS: That's a stronger more --

THOMAS: That's assuming that no more Democrats come forward to turns out that they are sexual harassers. This is largely a Democratic problem. Yes, Roy Moore's accusations are disgusting and egregious. But to date, it's been more of a Democratic than a Republican problem.

BRIGGS: But the problem is there, John, the problem is there as you know that Democrats have drawn the line. They have said Al Franken you are not welcome here. They have said John Conyers, you are not welcome here. How big a problem is that that they can claim we have the moral high ground. How big a problem is that for Republicans?

THOMAS: It's a challenge. I mean, don't get me wrong, but that's -- remember, Conyers was only after Nancy Pelosi on Meet the Press called him an icon and said she didn't know these women. I don't believe these women. So it's not exactly like these people -- Democrats have been completely squeaky clean. I think, certainly, Moore is going to be a problem for the Republicans going into the mid-terms. But Democrats I think don't have as easy of a path as they think they do today.

BRIGGS: Dave, let me ask you this. If Roy Moore was not running for Senate on Tuesday, if there was a governor of Minnesota who is a Republican and were to appoint a Republican Party if Al Franken were out, would any of these be happening right now? JACOBS: It's a secret that Al Franken was an easy sacrifice for the party. We're going to, you know, if he moves -- when he moves aside, pardon me, in a couple of weeks, the Democratic governor will appoint a Democrat for that seat. Obviously, that's for the rest of the term. They'll be an election coming up and of course the Democrat will have, who will be an incumbent, will have the upper hand to compete for that seat.

So, if Democrats do have a leg up with that and, of course, the Conyers' seat which is also a safe Democratic seat. But that being said, I think it's important for the -- and frankly, I was on Fredricka show a couple of weeks ago before Democrats were calling on Conyers and Al Franken to step aside, because I do think it's incredibly important for us as a party brand to be on the side of women who are the majority of the Democratic Party and to say we won't stand for this.

And so I think symbolically like Democrats have made the right moves for Republicans, it's put up or shut up. Like, you know, at the end of the day, it's on Republicans to expel Roy Moore. And if they don't, that's going to be a challenge for them in the mid-terms.

BRIGGS: Yes, I want to get to that in a minute. But first let's back to Tuesday and talk about the role of outsiders in this race. Richard Shelby, the senator, since 1986 that he did not vote for Roy Moore. Bill Britt who interviewed Roy Moore said, no outside. Not Steve Bannon, not President Trump, will have any impact on this race although the political strategist for the Moore campaign disagrees. Listen to this very different takes.


BILL BRITT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER: Steve Bannon is the ultimately outsider. Steve Bannon then going to move the needle in Alabama just like President Trump barely moved the needle in Alabama when he came down here for Luther Strange.

This is an Alabama race. You know, I've covered politics here for a long, long time. I've looked in other state and Alabama is unique. The people are proud. And they're going to make up their own mind.

DEAN YOUNG, CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST FOR ROY MOORE: This is Donald Trump on trial Alabama. If the people of Alabama vote for this liberal Democrat Doug Jones, then they are voting against the President who they put in office at the highest level. So it's very important for Donald Trump and, again, this ground zero for President Donald Trump. If they can beat him, they can beat his agenda.


BRIGGS: Two very different takes from two Alabamians. John, which is right?

THOMAS: I think it's a blend of two. I think Bill is right that no one cares what Steve Bannon thinks in Alabama. We saw that in a primary. He didn't move the needle. Donald Trump, though, does help in Alabama among Roy Moore supporters. He has a 98 percent approval rating. He did helped lift (ph) Luther Strange after Luther was in so much of a hole, it wasn't enough.

That fundamental question to Roy Moore campaign is trying to have voters asked themselves as we go into Election Day. It's who is best to drive Trump's agenda. If that's the question voters asked themselves, Roy Moore wins. If the question is whether or not Roy Moore is a child molester, then obviously that doesn't bode well. So that's a conversation they are trying to have.

[15:10:01] BRIGGS: Dave, last question is, Doug Jones is largely made this campaign about Roy Moore. Are Democrats ultimately going to be kicking themselves for not finding a stronger candidate that represents the Alabama political beliefs?

JACOBS: I beg to differ. Look, I don't think that the Jones campaign should just be running against Moore and running a negative campaign. Obviously, it's an important component of the mix in terms of communications. But I also think that the Jones campaign has to be campaigning on a positive level with an optimistic, hopeful message.

And I think there's a number of areas where they can capitalize on. They should talk about how he's going to invest an infrastructure, something that the Republicans and the President having campaigned on. More over, when it comes to this tax plan, Democrats should be talking about middle class tax cuts and not Republican plans where they're giving tax cuts to big corporations and greedy Wall Street banks.

And so, I think it's important to like hold the feet to the fire when it comes to Roy Moore. But at the same time you need to have a positive hopeful message to drive out, turn out among base Democratic voters.

BRIGGS: There's a lot on the table on Tuesday. Dave Jacobs and John Thomas, thank you both.

JACOBS: Thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you.

BRIGGS: CNN will have complete election night coverage of the Alabama Senate race that starts Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. eastern time.

Up next, a 48-hour mystery at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. Key moments over at two days spend last year. There are prompting questions of whether President-Elect Trump you knew Michael Flynn talked about sanctions with the Russian Ambassador. Plus, growing evacuations in southern California as a huge wildfire spreads into yet another county.


[15:15:43] BRIGGS: We still don't know the answer to one of the most critical questions on the Russia investigation. Did President Trump know Michael Flynn talked about sanctions a year ago with the Russian Ambassador? The answer could lie in the grand hallways of Mar-a-Lago.

Let's take a look back at the pivotal 48-hour period. Last December that's now haunting the Trump presidency. December 28th, 2016, then President-Elect Trump working from Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Top aides were seeing with him including Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Steven Miller and Hope Hicks. Also that day, in the Dominican Republic, Michael Flynn received contact from the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

December 29th now, 2016, a quitter day for the incoming President, current President Obama announces new sanctions against Russia for meddling in the U.S. election. Meanwhile, top National Security Aide K.T. McFarland received a call from Flynn to discuss what he should say to Kislyak regarding the sanctions.

According to court filings, Flynn then called Kislyak and encouraged a muted response. Then, Flynn called McFarland back to fill her in on the conversation. Later that day, Trump aides huddled at Mar-a-Lago to plan a response to the new sanctions. It's unclear whether President Trump was involved in those conversations. But just after 6:00 p.m., Trump responded to the sanctions saying, "I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."

Here now to talk about all this on the reporting on the Russian investigation, CNN White House Reporter, Abby Phillip, and CNN Legal Criminal Defense Attorney, Page Pate. Good to see you both. Abby, let's start with you. You're traveling with the President, has the White House said how deeply involved the President was in any of these deliberations? Did he expect them to?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Dave, those meetings that you just discussed would have happened just down the street from here at Mar-a-Lago. But the White House is not saying a whole lot about what the President would have known at the time that those meetings were happening. They said two things. One, the accusations against Flynn and the charges that he are now faces have absolutely nothing to do with the President. But at the same time, the President via his twitter feed has also claimed that Flynn's actions would not have violated any laws that they would have fallen into a category of legitimate behaviors on the part of the transition and he didn't even understand why Michael Flynn would have lied about them in the first place.

But the White House hasn't gotten down with any specificity about who exactly knew about these conversations. However, as you laid out, it seems unlikely that the President-Elect at the time who was deliberating with his aides about how to respond publicly to these sanctions would not have known at all what his soon to be national security adviser would have done. We also know that during that time, Michael Flynn was briefing the President regularly on an almost daily basis on that national security issues. So again it seems unlikely that the President would have been kept in the dark, but the White House is not saying definitively one way or another.

BRIGGS: It's really hard to believe given K.T. McFarland. Page, what is K.T. McFarland's exposure here? She wrote to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over the summer that she did not have any knowledge of Flynn's communications with the Russian Ambassador. But as you know, this new reporting seems to suggest otherwise.

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think ultimately, it's going to depend on what Michael Flynn tells the Special Counsel about who else knew about his discussions and what they knew. Because we know McFarland has made certain statements as you pointed out indicating she had no idea about those conversations and the substance of those conversations. If that statement was false, she could also be looking at a potential criminal charge of making a false statement. It doesn't have to be to the FBI. Any false statement made to a government official investigating some sort of a crime like this or even some other matter unrelated to criminal conduct can be a felony charge in their federal law.

BRIGGS: OK. Abby, you covered the campaign extensively. Is it plausible that the small circle of advisers kept this behind scenes conversations entirely from the President?

PHILLIP: I think it's unlikely. At the time the President was engaged and really putting together his entire administration, this was something that they had not really done before the election.

[15:20:02] So they were intensely involved in that process. They also wanted to reset with Russia. And that was a key foreign policy pillar for the Trump administration.

So, folks like K.T. McFarland, Michael Flynn and others who were either present in Mar-a-Lago or communicating regularly with the inner circle of this administration would have likely kept the President abreast of everything that they were doing. And if they didn't, they haven't said so definitively one way or another.

Now K.T.'s statements to investigators raised another question similar to one with Michael Flynn. If she did know about this, if she did have these conversations, why didn't she tell the truth or why wasn't she forthcoming to investigators? Was there an effort to conceal these conversations? These are all questions that investigators both in Congress and the Special Counsel are going to be looking at going forward.

BRIGGS: A lot of questions for K.T., right? Page, Mueller's team revealed in a court filing on Friday have collected now 400,000 some documents related to indicted former Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. Now, prosecutors say 2,000 of them are described as hot. What does that mean exactly? How might the Special Counsel leverage that?

PATE: Well, Dave, it's impossible for us to know exactly what those documents are. But it's not at all uncommon in a sophisticated complex federal criminal case for there to be hundreds of thousands of documents. I mean, in my own practice, the government will give me as evidence a terabyte or even multiple terabytes of information relating to the case. And it's always helpful. The government doesn't have to do this but it's helpful for them to identify to the defense, what are the most important documents out of this, you know, 400,000 or 500,000 documents we're giving you. So you can focus on that as you prepare for your defense. So, this is kind of the way things normally happen in federal criminal cases like this. The real question is what's in those documents? And his defense team, Manafort's defense team will eventually have the opportunity to find out.

BRIGGS: A lot of team, a lot of work for the Mueller's team. So, Abby, the President Friday night in Florida referred to this as a rigged and sick system. Many hear that word. This sends an ominous signal about this entire Russia probe.

Roger Stone, former adviser to the President told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that the President's legal team is walking him into an abyss by not attacking the Special Counsel's integrity. Do the President's language is the start of a new legal shift?

PHILLIP: Well, it's not clear that it's a legal shift. I mean, the President's lawyers have responded to some of this clamoring from his outside advisers and friends who say that Mueller is closing in by saying that they actually support the direction that the Mueller investigation is going in. They want to cooperate because they think that the investigation is coming to a close sooner rather than later.

So the President is hearing things in both ears right now. He's hearing from his lawyers that this thing is coming to a close and then he's hearing from his friends and his outside advisers who he talks to on a fairly regular basis that there are huge red flags here and that he needs to reign Mueller in. Now, what the President is going to do is really unclear. I think that he is being advised very strongly by his attorneys, by Republicans in Congress, don't get near Mueller directly. That would be a huge red line for members of Congress on the Hill.

And so, so far, nothing, but this distrust in institutions is a constant theme for President Trump. He's been talking about it since he was a candidate and it reflects the belief that the President has that he is being targeted by the so-called deep state and that includes Mueller and his investigation.

BRIGGS: Yes. Sawing distrust in our institutions is a concerning development. Abby Phillip, Page Pate, thank you both.

PATE: Thank you.

BRIGGS: A raging fire in southern California prompting more evacuations as firefighters struggle to contain the flames. We take you there live as people trying to escape to safety.


[15:28:34] BRIGGS: Welcome back. Everybody, thanks for joining us on a Sunday afternoon. I'm Dave Briggs in for Fredricka Whitfield. The tide has not turned in southern California. We are in day six in the furious Santa Ana winds are keeping the areas' largest wildfire alive, the Thomas fire now, the state's 13th most destructive. It's torched an area over twice the size of Atlanta.

Overnight, the blaze jumped in the nearby Santa Barbara County. Evacuations there are underway. And for hundreds of homeowners and businesses, the devastation is simply unspeakable.

California Governor, Jerry Brown, calls this, quote, the new normal.


GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: From history going back a long, long way, there have been very long droughts in California. We are getting some of those returning very bad. And we're going to get them returning more often and then with climate change, some scientists are saying southern California is literally burning up. And burning up as maybe a metaphor or a description and not just with the fire right here, but what we can expect over the next years and decades.


BRIGGS: Ominous words there. CNN's Senior Correspondent, Kyung Lah is in Santa Barbara County on the fire line. Kyung, what are you seeing there?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, it's expected to be a very tough day. We were actually in the hills with the firefighters and they tell you that it's exhausting and they are looking at another rough day specially when you go into the fire line.

[15:30:09] This is one flank of the fire. You can just see it's burning right there in those hills. And we were amid that area.

This is a fire that is in so many ways absolutely unrelenting. It is 173,000 acres, 15,000 structures are threatened, 754 have been destroyed so far. But those figures, Dave, we believe are outdated because while we were up in those hills with firefighters, we saw a house burn right before our eyes.

So, what firefighters are hoping is that the weather is going to improve, but the forecast is absolutely the reverse. The dry conditions are continuing. The winds expected to pick up in those hills. It is very, very windy.

They are hitting it very hard from the air. You can hear helicopters. I can actually see one over there trying to pick up some water. They are trying to hit it as hard as they can from the air to try to put down these flames.

The big concern right now, Dave, is that the fire is going to continue to march northwest. If it heads northwest, an area called Montecito, California which is bit more populated, populated with celebrity homes, larger estates that could also come under evacuation order and come under the threat. They're hoping to try to slow this merciless fire down. Dave?

BRIGGS: Terrifying new norm in the words of the governor there. Kyung Lah, thanks so much. Kyung talked about those gusty Santa Ana winds.

Let's get to our CNN Meteorologist, Ivan Cabrera, for the latest on the red flag warnings. Ivan, what are we seeing? Are these winds going to pick up?

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: They are going to continue to pick up. In fact, I think by later this afternoon we could be looking at the potential for hurricane force winds once again, upwards of 20 million people under a critical fire threat here across multiple counties in the southern California with the Santa Ana winds that continue.

And we've seen Kyung Lah there, not much wind where she is, but boy, you get up to those hills and the winds pick up dramatically. In fact, the high wind warnings continue now for Ventura and then to Los Angeles counties, 35 to 45 mile per hour winds. That's bad enough.

You get down towards San Diego County, 60 to 75 mile an hour wind gust as we heads for later on today. Seventy four is hurricane, right? So, once again, we could have that potential with very high fire risk. Then you see the red flag warnings that continue here because of those winds that have been relentless coming in from the north and east pushing down toward the southwest.

These are the critical things we look at, right? Temperature, that's hasn't been an issue. There has not been a problem. The wind has basically calling the shots here over the last and several days, 40 to 55 mile an hour winds.

In general, the humidity, my goodness, I mean, it just can't get any lower. Single digit humidity values, that will continue and, of course, there is no rain inside. That has of course, it's what leads to this problem here. No rain. The conditions not been -- just prying for high fire danger here.

Here's is the area of high pressure. Those are the offshore winds that compress and kind of lower the humidity as well as when they come down to slopes that can really get going 60-70 miles an hour. Better conditions as we hit through Monday. And I really think Monday will be the transition day. So then by Tuesday, we're going to see this area with improved winds, right?

So now we've gone from critical. This is for tomorrow, elevated still going to be a problem. And I still think we have 40 to 50 mile an hour winds but that area of high pressure will begin to move to the north and they'll begin to weaken here.

Look at this, 242 square miles. We mentioned Atlanta twice. The square footage there where we're looking at those square miles, we're looking at basically the size of Chicago as well. So this is going to continue to be a problem. But I think by the time we get into Tuesday, firefighters, this is a one ingredient. If you ask them that is going to be a big help will be the winds coming down and I think that will happen by Tuesday will be down between 20 and 30 miles per hour. That's still high, but it's a much improved condition from hurricane force winds which we have in the last few days.

BRIGGS: Any good news, they will take it there in southern California. Ivan Cabrera, thanks so much.

Happening right now in New Jersey, Democrat Senator Cory Booker campaigning with Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama which is a couple a days away from crucial Senate race. An African-American turn out will be critical for Doug Jones. Complete team coverage of that race, ahead.


[15:38:40] BRIGGS: You just heard California Governor Jerry Brown described his state is literally burning up and that climate change is making the west hotter than ever.

I'm joined now on the phone by Steve Concialdi. He's A captain with the Orange County Fire Authority. Thank you for joining us, Steve. The governor basically gave a reality check there about the fire conditions in the state saying this is the new normal. Do you agree with that assessment?

CAPT. STEVE CONCIALDI, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY: I do. So, it's been about 250 days since we've had significant rain in this area. So this vegetation is drought-stricken. It's extremely dry. And then when we have the winds, the wind is probably the most significant problem when we have a fire like this.

If it's just typography-driven, we normally could get our planes in there and the firefighters on the ground and slow it down. But any time it's a wind-driven fire, that's when see homes that are lost.

BRIGGS: It seems that the frequency and the intensity of these fires is picking up. Are there numbers to support that or is that just a perception?

CONCIALDI: Well, I say there's numbers that support it. You've seen often, we have these drought-like conditions and then any time we get these severe Santa Ana winds that right now in this area, it's erratic winds. There's times when we have the normal onshore and then we have the northeast, the Santa Ana winds.

And the reason why we do the evacuation orders is a prime example of Carpinteria. That area was under evacuation area.

[15:40:10] The residents wanted to go back home. And so, it was decided to let those evacuation orders and let them repopulate.

Unfortunately, then last night we had severe winds and early this morning around 2:00 to 2:33 we had to evacuate those people again. So, I know its inconvenience. We have empathy for all those people that have evacuated. But please heed those warnings and just know we're trying to do the best we can, because lives are number one.

Homes can be replaced, cars can be replaced. But we've already had one fatality on this fire early on when the fire was moving through. We had somebody evacuated, they were involved in a traffic accident, and they were trapped and died. We don't want to see that happening anywhere.

Just in Bonsall, a couple of days ago at that horse training facility, there was 46 horses that lost their lives. And the firefighters are protecting lives and property. Again, properties can be rebuilt, lives can't. And so that's why when we do have these evacuation orders, please heed those.

BRIGGS: Do you think this has anything to do with climate change?

CONCIALDI: Well, it's getting hotter and drier and I'm not sure of all the causes, but definitely we've been seeing these drought-like conditions for about the last five years. We did get some rain early on this year, and -- but it wasn't an awful lot. Basically it caused a lot of growth and then when we do have a fire like this that gets established, it's fast moving.

So, the fire here is burning towards the area of Carpinteria and Montecito and then Northwest of the Los Padres National Forest. We have a lot of personal -- here, we have approximate 4,500 personnel that are assigned to this. And then we have other firefighters that are coming in. And our number one goal right now is to protect structures. And that's what we're doing.

BRIGGS: Devastating pictures we're seeing on the screen right now. It's just hard to believe. It is nothing short of hell on earth. Are you getting the resources you need to fight this fire?

CONCIALDI: We are. And we just sent something. We have resources from all over California as well as 10 other states that are close by. We're tacks we have fires up and down, you know, from southern California all the way up. And -- so that's what firefighters do.

We all are involved in a master mutual aid system. It's probably the best. I would say it is the best in the nation here in California where we worked together and there is a plan in the Incident Command System. We need these additional resources.

Firefighters are spread thin. But as more firefighters are coming in, we are trying to save as many structures that we can. And we have saved thousands of them. You know, it's hard to report that we do have over 750 structures that have been destroyed, that's both, you know, private homes, commercial buildings and out buildings.

But firefighters don't want to lose one homes. And when we lose a number like that, it's devastating for us. There's a number of firefighters that live here in this community and it affects them as well and their family. So, it is a daunting task, but we do appreciate the support we're getting from, you know, these 10 states that are close to us.

BRIGGS: Thoughts and prayers with all of you and our hats off to the thousands of firefighters on the line there. Steve Concialdi is the Captain of the Orange County Fire Authority. Thank you, sir.

If you want to help those affected by the California wildfires, CNN has put together a list of vetted charities that are assisting the victims. You can find it at

Demonstrations erupting in the wake of President Trump's decision to recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The violent protests, next.


[15:48:59] BRIGGS: A security guard has been stabbed in a bus station at Jerusalem and what police said they are calling a terror attack. They identified the attacker is a 24-year-old Palestinian who was captured at the scene. The guard is hospitalized.

Meanwhile, Lebanese forces fired tear gas and water cannons of hundreds of angry protesters near the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. The crowd tugged gathered to demonstrate against President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There were also protests in other parts of the world including Pakistan and Turkey where hundreds showed up to show their anger at the decision.

Earlier today, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, defending the President's move.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: For 22 years you have had presidents and the American people ask for the embassy to be moved. And no president, not Clinton, not Bush, not Obama actually made -- had the courage to make that move and listen to the will of the American people. When it comes to those that are upset, we knew that was going to happen, but courage does cause that.


[15:50:03] BRIGGS: CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman has more on the protest near the U.S. embassy in Beirut.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The rocks had no chance in hitting the U.S. embassy north of Beirut.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): The chants calling for the embassy to be shut down probably barely audible to the American diplomats hunkering down inside. The embassy itself has more than a mile away.

But the message from more than 1,000 Lebanese, Palestinians and others who gathered here was clear, rejection of President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Agnan (ph) came from the Palestinian refugee camp of Anant Halwai.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language)

WEDEMAN (voice-over): We can't do more than this, he concedes. All we can do is raise our voices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language)

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Some tried to stop the stone throwing that failed. Lebanese Zhian Karam (ph) fired volley after volley of tear gas knocking some protesters unconscious. Demonstrators burned homemade Israeli flags, but their anger was aimed at their own leaders as much as it was at the usual assessment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language)

WEDEMAN (voice-over): We're used to Arab leaders and regimes who talk but do nothing says Chief Hussein Kassim (ph). Their condemnations and denunciations are useless.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language)

WEDEMAN (voice-over): They're sheeps, says Mohammed. All those leaders are sheep. Even our children know they're sheep.

As the protest begun to break up, more stones were thrown and out- rushed Lebanese security arresting those who weren't fast enough to get away.

(on camera): In the end, the demonstration was disbursed by Lebanese security forces. The road leading up this hill to the U.S. embassy is secure for now.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, north of Beirut.


BRIGGS: Ben, thanks. Stay safe.

Still to come, growing concerns, North Korea could try to stage some sort of attack at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Details next.


[15:56:55] BRIGGS: Its tensions run high over the missile threat from North Korea, concerns the rogue country may attempt some sort of attack during the 2018 winter Olympics in South Korea. CNN's Brian Todd has as report on how North Korea could possibly interfere in the upcoming games.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As tensions with Kim Jong-un's regime intensify, U.S. law enforcement and security agencies are ramping up coordination with their South Korean counterparts. Just eight weeks before the winter Olympics, concerns are mounting that North Korea might engage in a violent provocation to disrupt the games which are being held just 50 miles south of the DMZ.

JAMES GAGLIANO, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: My concerns are softer targets. And obviously, things that North Korea might do to provoke the South Korea to attempt, to cause either the games being shut down or events being moved or potentially war.

TODD (voice-over): Security experts say soft targets like transportation hubs, schools, and shopping areas could be targeted by the North Koreans during the Olympics. Could athletes from American and elsewhere be in danger?

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley hinted at it on FOX when asked if America would send its team to the games.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel comfortable sending the only members if they were athletes on our team?

HALEY: I think it depends on what's going on at the time in the country. We have to watch this closely and it's changing by the day.

TODD (voice-over): But now, the White House and U.S. Olympic committee say America is planning to send its athletes to the winter Olympics. Still, there is a unique security threat at these games. The location and razor sharp tensions over Kim's missile tests have the region on edge.

North Korea has used tunnels to try to insert commandos and frog men into South Korea for spying and assassinations. And the regime has a history of violence surrounding major South Korean sporting events.

A South Korean airliner was blown up by two North Korean agents in 1997 with all 115 people on board killed. One of the agents was captured and said the bombing was ordered by the North's leaders to disrupt the 1988 summer Olympics in Seoul. And during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, North Korean patrol boats engaged in a skirmish with the South, leaving several servicemen on both sides dead. Analysts say Kim has strong motives for disrupting these winter Olympics.

PATRICK CRONIN, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: He is facing the prospect of two years of maximum economic strangulation through sanctions and other law enforcement measures to really cripple his economy. He is going to look for ways to fight back. One way to fight back is to hurt the South Korean economy. And the South Korean economy right now is a 100 percent focused on a successful international event.

So imagine cyber sabotage. So you don't kill anybody, but just disrupt the economic flow, the transportation flow. You create a headache for the South Korean government. You make the South Koreans look bad. They lose face.

TODD (on camera): Analyst say if the North Koreans don't engage in a violent provocation during the winter Olympics, they're at least likely to send spies into South Korea during the games. They say the Olympics will offer the North Koreans an opportunity to gain economic intelligence on South Korea, to place sleeper agents there and to make contact with the North Korean agents they already have in South Korea.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BRIGGS: All right. Everybody, thanks for joining me.