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The Changing Climate; Trump's Diet Coke Habit. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired December 12, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump accusers band together asking Congress to investigate the President in the new atmosphere brought on with the "me too" movement.

VAUSE: Veiled terror attack in the heart of New York City. A pipe bomb partially detonates and mainly wounds the terror suspect himself who has claimed allegiance to ISIS.

SESAY: And as one of the biggest fires in California history continues to burn the state's governor blasts U.S. President Donald Trump for his stance on climate change.

VAUSE: Hello. Welcome to our viewers all around the world -- great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: Down to the wire in the U.S. State of Alabama in the final hours of a stunning Senate campaign that has exploded on to the national stage.

SESAY: Voters will choose between Roy Moore the Republican accused of sexual misconduct and assault, and Doug Jones a Democrat fighting an uphill battle in a deeply Republican state.

Monday night's rally was Moore's first campaign event in nearly a week. He had virtually disappeared from the campaign trail in recent days. When Moore took to the stage he had some harsh words for Alabama senior Senator Richard Shelby who says he is not voting for Moore.


JUDGE ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: We had several senators that contest my election -- one from this state. You know, we talk about draining the swamp. I don't know if you remember this but it's difficult to drain the swamp when you're up to your neck in alligators. And that's where we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: As for the Democrat Doug Jones, he says the women who made the allegations against Roy Moore were courageous just like an American civil rights hero.


DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: I was so happy to be in Montgomery on December 1 which is the anniversary of Rosa Parks sitting down at a bus and not moving and let me tell you how I was so happy because let me tell you something if we have ever had a year of courageous women it is 2017, right now.


VAUSE: If Jones wins he will be the first Democratic senator to represent Alabama in more than two decades.

SESAY: Well, sexual harassment and misconduct have been made issues in the Alabama Senate race, similar accusations have reached the top levels of political power.

VAUSE: All the way to the U.S. President. Both Roy Moore and Donald Trump deny all the allegations against them but now three of Trump's accusers are back in the national spotlight calling for a congressional investigation.

Here's CNN's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: For the White House the questions aren't going away even if the answers remain the same.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations.

ACOSTA: Women who accused President Trump of harassment and even assault are telling their stories once again to join the "me too" that are shining a bright light on the issue of sexual abuse in the U.S.

RACHEL CROOKS, PRESIDENT TRUMP ACCUSER: This was serial misconduct and perversion on the part of Mr. Trump. Unfortunately this behavior isn't rare in our society and people of all backgrounds can be victims.

The only reason I am here today is because this offender is now the President of our country.

ACOSTA: The women are also speaking out as the President is endorsing Republican senate candidate Roy Moore who's denying accusations of sexual assault or abuse by four women including one woman who allege he molested her when she was 14.

JESSICA LEEDS, PRESIDENT TRUMP ACCUSER: In some areas of our society people are being held accountable for wanted behavior. But we are not holding our President accountable for what he is and who he is.

ACOSTA: Press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed there are eyewitnesses who will back up the President's denials.

SANDERS: Several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the President's claim in this process. And again the American people knew this and voted for the President and we feel like we're ready to move forward in that process.

ACOSTA: Sanders made that claim despite Mr. Trump being caught on tape with "Access: Hollywood" bragging about forcing himself onto women.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just (INAUDIBLE) -- and when you're a star they let you do it.

ACOSTA: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley appeared to differ somewhat with the White House view that the issue of the President's past behavior was settled in the last election.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Women who accuse anyone should be heard. They should be heard and they should be dealt with. And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.

[00:05:05] ACOSTA: Before the election, the Trump campaign tried to argue past behavior does matter pointing to women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of misconduct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bill Clinton raped me.

ACOSTA: In an exclusive CNN interview Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined a growing number of Democratic senators who say there's enough evidence to call on the President to resign from office.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: President Trump should resign. These allegations are credible. They are numerous. I've heard these women's testimony and many of them are heartbreaking.

ACOSTA: As the President's accusers were sharing their stories Mr. Trump was lashing out once again at the news media on Twitter -- a line of attack on the American press picked up in the White House briefing room.

ACOSTA: Journalists make honest mistakes and that doesn't make them fake news. But the question that I have --

SANDERS: Well, when journalists make honest mistakes, they should own up to them --

ACOSTA: They do.

SANDERS: -- sometimes. In a lot of times you don't. But there's a difference. There's a very big -- (CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: I'm sorry. I'm not finished. There's a very big difference between making honest mistakes and purposely misleading the American people.

ACOSTA: As for the press secretary's claim that there are eyewitnesses who will back up the President's denials that he ever engaged in sexual misconduct, the White House has passed along a few news reports that came out during the 2016 campaign. But they say the President had hardly produced enough evidence or eyewitnesses to refute all of the claims of abuse directed at the President.

Jim Acosta, CNN -- the White House. >


VAUSE: Jessica Levinson is with us now. She's a professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School. Jessica -- good to see you.


VAUSE: Ok. None of the allegations we heard on Monday are actually new but are more people actually willing to believe these women now? And what does that actually mean for the President who continues to insist that they are all liars?

LEVINSON: The President seems to be wearing suits made of Teflon. I mean so these allegations are just bouncing right off of him and so Sarah Sanders is right in the sense that the American public knew about these allegations against President Trump and still voted to elect him.

Now that was before the "me too" movement which I truly think is a movement but if you notice about the people who are calling for investigation, calling for the President to step down it's still based on party affiliation.

So it's still all Democrats and still predominantly women. And I think it's time for this to not to be a fight that is just about -- an exaggeration of a partisanship fight. And it should be much bigger than that.

VAUSE: But just to be clear that argument that the White House continues to put forward that, you know, the American people knew about this, they still voted him president. That is not, you know, an exoneration of guilt. That doesn't mean that, you know, he's clear of it.

2LEVINSON: Oh no. It's an indictment of all of us in fact.

VAUSE: Right.

LEVINSON: The fact that we knew that and then still elected him is deeply disturbing. I mean she is correct that all of these allegations are not new. We're in this idea that there are people who are going to corroborate the fact that this didn't happen.

We have the then-candidate now-president of the United States on tape admitting to sexual assault. This isn't just inappropriate behavior. It's not so-called locker room talk.

This is a deep indictment on the American public that because he had an R next to his name and because he was popular in, you know, in some respects we still elected him to be leader of the free world.

VAUSE: It wasn't a vote about whether or not he actually sexually harassed these women.

LEVINSON: No. This was not the jury saying he didn't -- I think it was accepting that it happened but we're going to vote for you for President anyway.

VAUSE: Ok. All of this now comes full circle with the President campaigning for Roy Moore, the Alabama senate candidate who's accused by multiple women of sexually inappropriate behavior.

The former White House adviser Steve Bannon, he was out campaigning on Monday made it clear, this election was all about supporting the President against the Republican establishment. Listen to this.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: All that establishment up there every day that doesn't have the -- doesn't have Trump's back. You know they don't have him back at all. What they want him for is that corporate tax cut. That's all they want him for.

As soon as they get that tax cut you watch what happens. There's a special place in hell for Republicans who should know better.


VAUSE: That last part there -- special place in hell -- clearly that is aimed at the President's daughter Ivanka who used those words in criticizing Roy Moore. She said there's a special place in hell for people who abuse children. You know, Bannon's going after everyone.

LEVINSON: He is. I mean he is -- he is a very -- this is kind of vintage Steve Bannon. He's going after everyone. It is absolutely not a surprise and also not a coincidence that he used this phrase, "there's a special place in hell".

I mean what is fascinating about the Alabama race is not just that Steve Bannon is attacking everybody but that the President of the united states has aligned himself with someone who is facing credible allegations of not just he did some things he shouldn't have but credible allegations of pedophilia.

And yes it's Alabama, and yes it's special election but the only reason we're talking about Doug Jones is because he's running against someone who's been accused of sexual assault. [00:10:07] VAUSE: Well, you know Doug Jones has received a lot of

high profile help from the Democrats, you know, Cory Booker the senator. You know, for instance he's been campaigning with him. President Obama recorded a robocall for Jones. And there's also the retired NBA star Charles Barkley. He ripped into Moore at a campaign rally on Monday.


CHARLES BARKLEY, RETIRED NBA STAR: It's unbelievable that this guy is still in the race when people in your own party say they won't vote for you or support you. That's a dead giveaway.


VAUSE: You know at least Barkley's from Alabama but could all of this outside help ultimately backfire? Could it end up helping, you know, Roy Moore?

LEVINSON: It could but again I think the most important thing here is that if you look at the demographics of who's registered to vote in Alabama, and overwhelmingly this people have an R next to their name.

So there's a lot of talk in we like to think that celebrity endorsements help and who's on the campaign trail helps and who's making robocalls help. And it helps to a certain extent because this is a special election so it's very low turnout.

But unlike most special elections it's not at all low information. People tend to make up their minds and know who they're going to vote for without Charles Barkley or President Obama telling them what to do.

We like to think that all of those things matter but the truth is most people have made up their minds by the time they see the name and the party affiliation.

VAUSE: I want to get back to that exchange between the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and Jim Acosta. Sanders kind of went a little nuclear during the White House briefing on Monday accusing reporters of deliberately putting out stories intended to mislead calling it, you know, ultimately fake news.

It seems what she was describing was exactly what President Trump has done. Putting out, you know, these fake news stories and these misleading items and then not correcting it like Trump Tower was bugged by President Obama. Millions of unregistered -- undocumented immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton.

And it all began with this, you know, the size of the inauguration crowds. You know, this is a president who continually puts out misleading information and then does not correct the record.

LEVINSON: So there's two deeply dangerous things that happened. One is information coming from the President of the United States through him and through his press secretary that is just false and that is never corrected. And then -- and that is something that we should not -- again we should not normalize or accept but the second thing which is I think just as dangerous is the President and the press secretary trying to undermine the media which is something that we know is the foundation of our democracy.

And this is what happens -- I mean not to sound too dramatic but this is what happens when -- with autocratic leaders where they say you trust the press and you can't trust what those reporters are saying.

And what Sarah Sanders is talking about here is mistakes that have been made by the press but absolutely no evidence that the press is actively trying to mislead the American public.

Whereas we know just as we know gravity exists that the President has said that there are things that are -- said things that are false and never gone back and said, I'm sorry about that.

I mean down to the idea of how many people are in a space as you said, down to the inauguration. So I think we all need to be particularly aware when we are at a point where we are trying to undermine the free press which is where we are today.

VAUSE: Bunch of mistakes in the last four days has not helped that. But clearly reporters are trying their best, it's not a deliberate campaign despite what Miss Sanders may have to say.

Jessica -- good to see you. Thank you.

LEVINSON: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, turning now to New York and what authorities call an attempted terrorist attack. A law enforcement source tells CNN the man accused of detonating a homemade pipe bomb had at least two devices.

The pipe bomb went off in an underground passageway at the city's main bus terminal during the Monday morning rush hour. Surveillance video captured the blast. Five people suffered minor injuries.

As you look at these images here, you can see the suspect lying on the ground injured after detonating the explosive. He's been identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah. He immigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh and a source says he told police he pledge allegiance to ISIS and carried out the attack because of recent Israeli actions in Gaza.

CNN law enforcement contributor and retired FBI supervisor special agent Steve Moore joins us now right here in Los Angeles. Steve -- good to have you with us.


SESAY: All right. So the suspect here, 27-year-old Akayed Ullah tried to do some serious damage with a device he says he made at home described by the New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill as an improvised low tech explosive device attached to his body. And he intentionally detonated that device, says Commissioner James O'Neill.

I wanted to talk specifically about the composition here. As far as we understand it we're being told that it was a foot-long pipe contained black powder, a battery, wiring, nails and screws -- this, according to a source telling CNN. It was attached to his person with Velcro and zip ties.

[00:15:05] What does the composition of all this say to you?

S. MOORE: Well, it says to me first of all that this guy was somebody who learned how to make bombs by reading the instructions on the Internet which always works in our favor because they either make bad bombs or they're killed by the bombs they're trying to make. And it shows that there was no direct training from ISIS.

I suspect what happened here is he made a mistake in the amount of ingredients he put in the pipe bomb. And, you know, bombs can go off what we call high order which means they're extremely efficient or low order which means they don't go off hardly at all.

I mean you saw not a lot of blood in this situation, if any at all, which indicates to me that his injuries were burns, not fragmentation.

SESAY: Yes, which is what we're hearing -- that there were burns to his abdomen and his hands. The fact that he was -- first of all let me ask you how easy is it to find the stuff on the Internet?

S. MOORE: I can get it for you in four clicks.

SESAY: Ok. Four clicks. How easy is it to make it such a thing? I mean it's one thing to --

S. MOORE: Make it right?


S. MOORE: To make it right is very difficult. One thing we had to do at bomb investigation school is literally learn how to build them ourselves so that we would learn how to put together these -- the fragments of these bombs after they had gone off.

And one thing that struck me repeatedly was that it is much too easy to kill yourself if you are not doing these things right. And that actually is working in our favor at times.

SESAY: It's our understanding as we've been sharing with our viewers that there were two devices. That's what we're being told. But we're not getting any information on the second device. What does that say to you?

S. MOORE: I'm guessing because these people tend not to try to do two different bombs. I mean he didn't even get the first one right. So I'm guessing that it's probably going to be a lot like the first one.

And I'd be interested in little arcane things like the diameter of the pipe -- SESAY: Sure.

S. Moore: -- where he bought the pipe, and things like that. But what this is, is the problem over and over again.

SESAY: Sure.

S. MOORE: We are getting individuals who tell no one that they've decided to conduct an attack in the name of ISIS. When they tell no one the only way we're going to find them is through some type of --

SESAY: Leakage?

S. Moore: -- yes, leakage in the community, leakage from them and then actually we're going to have to look at people who go into your average Home Depot and ask for a foot long pipe threaded at both ends.

SESAY: I mean whether or not he got direct assistance from ISIS which by all accounts, judging by the standards of this device, it doesn't appear he did, unlikely let's say that, there's still the question of how he became radicalized.

S. MOORE: Yes and I think that's going to be answered by the fact that he was back in Bangladesh earlier this year. Then he went to the United Arab Emirates and what we as law enforcement are going to have get better doing is following people who go overseas to potentially --

SESAY: That's a lot of people -- Steve.

S. MOORE: It is.

SESAY: A lot of people with limited resources.

S. MOORE: Some of my real good friends in the last year have gone to India, Pakistan and the UAE and so I understand how big it's going to be.

But World War II was a real big thing we had to do. This is what we're going to have to learn to do to stop this is screening everybody before they get on airlines. That's a huge thing that we had to do.

And unfortunately we're going to have to do some monumental things if we want to stop this because had he been just a little bit better he could have killed a lot of people.

SESAY: Indeed. But what's also notable here is that this is the first time, according to a lot of reporting and a lot investigating that we have seen someone try and blow themselves up as a lone wolf actor here in the United States. Vehicles, that's one thing; planting devices that you detonate from afar, that's another thing. He strapped it to his body.

S. MOORE: Right, Right. One thing in common for all of them is they don't expect to survive. And this guy was probably reaching little bit too far. Had he used a car he could have probably killed some people; had he used a knife. But I think, you know, the golden egg here is getting down into the subways or getting into large office buildings.

SESAY: Let me share a point made by William Bratton, the former police commissioner. He said this. "The reality is that if someone wants to take time to plan an attack there's no shortage of places they can plan an attack on and in New York City."

He also said "The pace of the attacks has accelerated which is naturally a concern. Your response to what he said? Because I mean that's -- the fact of the matter is New York is a big city. They can go anywhere. And they seem to be trying their luck. I mean the last one we talked about was Halloween.

S. MOORE: Bill Bratton is very smart. And Bill Bratton is correct. The pace is increasing and that's very troublesome. And so to - you know the definition of insanity is just doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

[00:19:53] If we do not follow the travel habits of people from certain countries -- and I realize the civil liberties concerns and the concerns we, as Americans, have in not wanting to judge people by religion or their travel habits but it is very easy to determine whether something was legitimate travel or not. We cannot go ahead and do the same things that we have been doing and expect to win against terrorism.

SESAY: We'll pick it up in the next hour because I do want to ask a little bit more about, I mean, how do you even begin to do that, to ascertain that you're rightfully targeting the right person without you profiling, without you as we say --

S. MOORE: I understand the concerns.

SESAY: -- we'll pick it up.

S. MOORE: Will do.

SESAY: Steve Moore -- appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, the Middle East on a fifth day of protests over U.S. President's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Gaza and the West Bank, dozens of Palestinians were hurt during those demonstrations.

SESAY: But as CNN's Arwa Damon explains, some of the recent demonstrations haven't been as big as expected.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The billowing smoke from the burning tires creates a dramatic backdrop as cars try to weave their way through. Youth gather rocks from the ground, their faces covered, both in a vain attempt to diminish the effect of the teargas but also so that they're not identified by Israeli forces later. Parents do try to halfheartedly convince their children to stay away from the clashes. Bu like any rebellious generation they are not listening, especially not now, not now that they feel that Jerusalem has slipped from their hands.

"My parents say don't go and if the Arabs and the big Arab leaders aren't taking action it is not going to be liberated with rocks or young men and women," this 19-year-old tells us. "But I do what's in my head."

But the numbers of Palestinians who have taken to the streets remains, relatively speaking, low.

This sort of a back and forth, it's pretty much the norm here. In fact a little muted at least by what the expectations were.

People say that they are exhausted. They say that they still will continue to fight. It just gets that much harder every day.

Yet that is hardly a reflection of what is happening within the population's hearts -- the anger of it all. And as Mustafa Barghouli (ph) says, observers should not rush to any conclusions.

MUSTAFA BARGHOULI, EXEC COMMITTEE OF PLO: It's 50 years of occupation, 70 years of displacement -- Lots of disappointments, one after the other. Of course, it has its effects on people's psychology but I know our people.

DAMON: Back in 1987 it was the same, Barhoti explains. The population suffocated by its collective disappointment and that resulted in what he described as the most fantastic uprising in Palestinian history -- the first intifada that led to the Oslo Accord in 1993.

The banner carried in this small demonstration reads -- "Jerusalem is the red line and the gateway to peace and war."

The onus is not just on the Palestinian street but on its leadership and Arab and Muslim nations who many say could and should do so much more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would not say that this is the end of the story. I think what we see today is a beginning of a new chapter, a whole new chapter in our relationship to Israel and the United States.

DAMON: A new chapter that may see America replaced as a mediator, a new chapter with all its unpredictability and unknowns that people can only hope will be for the first time authored by the Palestinians themselves.

Arwa Damon, CNN -- Ramallah. >


VAUSE: Well, situation (ph) wildfires are still burning across southern California. An update on the largest flame, the Thomas fire is just ahead.


SESAY: Thousands of firefighters are dealing with dry weather and strong winds as they battle the fifth largest wildfire in modern Californian history.

VAUSE: The Thomas fire is one of six major fires burning in southern California right now.

We have the details from Kyung Lah.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Thomas fire the largest of southern California's wildfires remains a significant threat even as the weather begins to shift. What you are looking at is the southwestern flank of this fire.

This is the area where firefighters have been making a stand in part because what is directly below this area if it were to continue to burn at a high rate of speed -- Santa Barbara, Carpinteria -- towns, many, many homes but the wind shifted today. What you are seeing is that smoke heading upwards.

Yesterday it was burning down, the smoke was covering this area. You couldn't see the sun. The evacuation area was expanding rapidly.

Today it is much more of a slow burn, a positive development say firefighters but this fire still remains a significant problem.

Is it too soon to say things are looking up?

MIKE ELIASON, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY FIRED DEPARTMENT: It's not too soon, you know. Hope springs eternal and every day we're going to hope that this is progressing and getting closer and closer of being put to bed.

But right now we're going to need some rain and the long range forecast doesn't show that. This fire can burn. We're number five on the list of biggest fires in the state of California's history. We moved up a slot from yesterday when we were number six.

We're going to need a lot of work. We've got some -- a lot of folks -- over 6,000 people are attached to this fire and they're working hard and they're going to be here until this fire's completely out.

LAH: More than 6,000 firefighters remain trying to fight just this one fire. They say what would make a significant difference, the game changer would be some rain but so far rain is not forecast for weeks in California.

Kyung Lah, CNN -- Santa Barbara County, California.


SESAY: My thanks to Kyung there.

Well, meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us with the latest conditions in southern California. Pedram -- Kyung was just saying that no rain expected. What are you seeing as you look at the models right now?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know just pulling up the latest models and it actually is suggesting what it was suggesting about a week ago which is kind of targeting the 22nd, 23rd of December right before Christmas there. And now it's actually improving the odd of rainfall. I'm putting it -- quite a bit of rainfall across southern California at that time period.

But of course, you're look at your calendar, there's still about two weeks away from that so that is a long way to go before we get there in what has now become the most destructive fire in state history just for the month of December. And then look at the historical relevance of all of this well, pretty impressive in its own right.

But here's what we're dealing. Of course, five other fires, much of them between 80 percent to almost 100 percent contained. The Thomas fire of the 2,500 hectares of land that have been consumed 2,300 of it are associated with this one fire -- so 90 percent of the damage essentially done from the Thomas fire.

And then here's what we are looking at as far as the superlatives with this because we're coming in at the fifth largest wildfire in state history -- notice the month of December a lone one there standing by itself with the Thomas fire. But now break it apart this comes in top ten all time when it comes to most structures consumed. And then notice the other ones. The Tubbs fire from October 2017 was number one of course. So within a matter of a couple of months we now have the top three most destructive fires as far a structures in state history taking place and you know, it's been a rough year for friends across southern California.

But here is the concern. Notice the forecast models going into early Tuesday morning so just a few hours away right across Ventura County, that's where the highest winds are expected -- 50, 60 kilometers per hour directly over the flames here.

That's the expectation for later on this morning. We expect that to diminish a little bit and still it is less wind speed than we saw this time last week so some improvement there as a result.

The fire risk is now elevated which, on a scale of one to three is a one. Of course, we think this will improve just a little bit.

[00:30:01] And John and Isha -- I think over the next three to four days, the best bet firefighters have to taking that the containment number from 20 percent up to maybe 30 or 40 percent as the weather really not ideal but much better than we were last season -- guys.


(WEATHER REPORT) JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: As firefighters struggle to contain the

wildfires in the Los Angeles area, we'll take a closer look at what California's governor calls the new normal. That's in just a moment.




VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:


VAUSE: Well, the summit comes on the heels of a number of extreme climate events around the world and currently the wildfires here in California. For more on this, joining us from Oakland is science journalist Jacob Ward.

Jacob, good to see you.


VAUSE: Looking at the record, if we look at the numbers, there is a temptation to make this simple connection between the fires and global warming. The world is getting hotter and we have seen seven of California's 10 biggest wildfires in the last 14 years. So one begets the other.

But it's not as straightforward as that, is it?

WARD: No, it's not. That's right. There is this temptation to sort of think of it as this kind of linear trend, that the planet is just getting warmer and warmer but this is why scientists don't really refer to it as global warming any longer; they refer to it as climate change. It's much more complicated than that.

So in the case of these wildfires in California, you know, certainly we have seen increased drought but we have also seen drenching rain as a result of climate change.


WARD: The forces here are just far more complicated. There's just much more of a sort of mix of things rather than the sort of linear trend of warming that people used to think of.

VAUSE: There's been at least what four or five major studies over the past decade, which warned that this was coming.

So why is anyone surprised?

WARD: Well, there's really just a tendency I think among human beings not to really think about anything beyond, really, the next 20 minutes, much less the next year or five years or, in the case of climate change, the next 100 years, which is where the really big impacts will be felt.

In this case, we are talking about trends that, you know, feel as if, oh, you know, just sort of crazy weather but the truth is they do seem to sort of fit into a pattern. One of them has to do with what they call the East Coast-West Coast diode, this idea that the changes in the prevailing winds are going to make it such that the East Coast gets these just -- gets really just hammered by these cold, cold winters while the West Coast gets warmer and warmer.

And that difference of the two coasts seems to create a situation in which weather kind of pauses and basically sort of freezes in a certain place. So right now California, where I am, should be under an incredible amount of rain. But that's being sort of held off the shore, basically off the coastline right now is where all that rain is.

It should be here on shore, keeping fires like this at bay but because of the East Coast-West Coast Diode, it's making it worse. So like you say, we knew this kind of thing could be coming but it changes every year; it has to do with much more of a fluctuation from year to year rather than being this kind of a consistent trend. So it's just hard, I think, for people to keep track of it in their minds.

VAUSE: We heard from the California governor, Jerry Brown. He was interviewed by "60 Minutes" over the weekend. He believes global warming is in fact making the state's fires a whole lot worse than they should have been. He had some strong words for the U.S. president and his decision to withdraw from the Paris accord on climate change. This is what Jerry Brown said.


JERRY BROWN, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: I don't think President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility and this is such a reckless disregard for the truth and for the existential consequences that can be unleashed.


VAUSE: We should note that, you know, Governor Brown did train to be a Jesuit priest. So that's where, I guess, that warning comes from. But the concern that he has is that this is not only just the new normal now, we're just seeing these incredible fires raging in California, snowflakes in Houston at the same time but the new normal is going to continue to get a whole lot worse.

WARD: Yes. It really just seems to be the case. You know, and when you couple, John, the effects of climate change that Governor Brown is talking about there with just some of the facts on the ground here in California, I mean, one really interesting thing to note is that California's landscape is actually intended to burn. The natural cycle of California's landscape, according to researchers at UC Berkeley and elsewhere is such that, in the old days, up to 10 percent of the state would burn every single year. That was just the natural course of things.

But those same researchers say that if today 10 percent of California burned, it would be the single largest natural disaster in the history of the United States. So we're in this situation where not only is climate change making it that much more complicated, that much more challenging for Americans to adapt to all the sacrifices that we might have to make economically and otherwise; also, just the fact of growing population in the world makes it such that we are living in the path of fire.

And so, for a president, in the case of President Trump, who really just has not taken to thinking about the big sacrifices that climate change may ask of us, certainly asking him to also think about the fact that human beings are living in the fire's path, the path of natural fire, you know, all of that just seems like maybe it's just a little too complicated for the current political situation.

VAUSE: Yes. We are out of time but it does seem that 2017 will be the year when climate change went from scientific theory to terrifying reality for so many people.

WARD: Yes.

VAUSE: Jacob, it's always good to see you. Thank you.

WARD: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Please join us for a special report from the Arctic. CNN's Clarissa Ward travels to Greenland to see first-hand how climate change is impacting the region. Her report "Global Warning: Arctic Melt" airs in just a few hours, at 9:00 am in London, 5:00 pm in Hong Kong. And then stick around. A few hours after that, Max Foster has a special edition of "CNN TALK." It's focusing on climate change as well. That's at noon in London, 8:00 pm in Hong Kong, only on CNN.

SESAY: All right. Time for a quick break here. 12 Diet Cokes, no coasters and a butler to make sure that there is ice. Why there's so many rivers of artificial sweetener flowing through the Oval Office.





SESAY: Hello, everyone. The U.S. commander in chief seems to think Coke is better by the dozen. President Donald Trump downs 12 Diet Cokes each day and that is according to "The New York Times."

VAUSE: Diet sodas apparently are linked to dementia even though the president still continues to drink the fizzy stuff, even though calls it garbage. Jeanne Moos has some more on the president's drinking habits.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whether he sucks it up through a straw or drinks it straight out of the bottle, the presidential diet is afloat in Diet Coke.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twelve Diet Cokes. Right?

MOOS (voice-over): Twelve cans per day, according to "The New York Times." It even followed him to Japan, where an attendant wearing white gloves waited with a tray bearing the beverage.

Some rallied in defense of drinking 1 dozen Diet Cokes a day. But we asked the nutritionist author of "Read It Before You Eat It" what 12 Diet Cokes daily could do to a body.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It fills you with bubbles, you get a lot of bloat. The enamel on your teeth. There's also caffeine. What else is it replacing?

There's a good chance he is not drinking enough water.

MOOS (voice-over): But think of all the exercise the president gets pushing the button on his desk so a butler brings him a Coke. The soda was at the center of a mini controversy back in the spring. Trump can't even bother to use a coaster at the Resolute Desk for his hourly Coca-Cola injection. Hey, coasters are for wimps. Not he- men like the one the women ogled in that old commercial.


MOOS (voice-over): You can't say the president isn't self-aware. He once tweeted, "I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke."

After few more pokes at Coke, he tweeted, "I'll still keep drinking that garbage."

But 12 a day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe he should dilute every one of his diet sodas down with some sparkling water to try to wean himself off of that habit.

MOOS (voice-over): Or he could try this. President Trump has a little habit of rearranging things in front of him. Maybe he should just keep moving his Coke farther and farther until it's out of reach -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


SESAY: I never noticed that.

VAUSE: He could start drinking alcohol.

SESAY: Not on the job.

VAUSE: OK. SESAY: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "WORLD SPORT" is next. You're watching CNN.