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Trump Administration Reverses Oil Drilling Plan for One State; Deadly Mudslides in Southern California; Bannon Leaves "Breitbart," Booted from Sirius XM. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 10, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:33:28] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: A swift reversal by the Trump administration. It now says there will be no new oil and gas drilling off of the Florida coast. And this comes just days after the Interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, announced plans to roll back offshore drilling restrictions.

So CNN's Rene Marsh is here with the details on this.

Bring us up to speed. This has been a change.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a drastic change. Last week, the Trump administration proposed drastically expanding oil and gas drilling in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. We have a map there. You're looking at the areas that would be impacted. The plan essentially opens up nearly all of the nation's outer continental shelf for drilling.

Well, Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, was the first out of the gate to reject the plan. He called for a meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and Zinke walked out of that meeting, taking a different stance. Florida was, in his words, "now off the table" for any new drilling. And now the Trump administration is being accused of playing politics with this drilling decision.

Now, there is -- it's no secret that Trump and his senior aides inside the White House, both publicly and privately, they've urged Governor Scott to run for Senate, hoping that the Republican governor would challenge the Florida Democrat, Bill Nelson. Of course, that would change the balance of power, somewhat, and make things more favorable for the president in Congress. Even after the hurricanes or during the hurricanes, when the president visited, he said that he hopes that Governor Scott runs for Senate. This was during the hurricane damage just last year.

Now, even if you look at Ryan Zinke's statement, it gives all of the credit for his decision to Rick Scott. We have part of that statement where he says, "I support the governor's position that Florida is unique, and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver."

You know, that already hands Rick Scott a win, if he decides, indeed, to run for the Senate. But, Brianna, this has really triggered quite a reaction from

lawmakers across the country. Other Republican governors now say they want the same treatment. They, too, want to be exempt. Take a look at this map here. All governors from Republican-controlled states, they're all saying they, too, don't want drilling along their coastline. So the question now is, will the Trump administration give equal consideration to all other coastal governors from both parties?

[11:36:04] KEILAR: It's a very good question.

Rene Marsh, thank you so much for that.

I want to bring back now Symone Sanders and Kevin Madden to talk more about this.

OK, Symone, what is your read on this?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I don't think it's right. It just reeks of, this is throwing a line --


KEILAR: Well, you're happy there's no drilling, I'm sure?

SANDERS: I'm happy there's no drilling. Look, if we want to curb drilling on all of our coasts because it's not good for the environment, that's what we should be doing. But if we're going to be giving special drilling concessions for one governor that happens to be in a state where the current president of the United States happens to have a place where he goes to and this governor that happens to want to run for United States Senate, that's one thing, when there are other Republican governors who have asked for the same considerations, folks who are not as friendly to President Trump, and I don't think they're going to get their due.

KEILAR: So that would be my question to you, Kevin Madden. Yes, there are other governors that have not been as supportive as Rick Scott.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The problem here is that this is not going to be a discussion about the merits. It's going to be a discussion about the process. And when you have a deal like this, deals like this, they never really endure very well, right? And the pressure begins to mount because other Republicans -- forget that they're Republicans. Just other governors who have the interest of their states in mind, Maryland, South Carolina, Massachusetts. They're all going to take their complaints to the White House. And pressure is going to mount from across these other states. And that's going to be --

KEILAR: And if it's not answered, it looks like cronyism.

MADDEN: It's going to be a problem for the White House, it's a very swampy way to do business. And I think the criticism will continue.

KEILAR: And so to that point, the president sometimes has this reflex of, if President Trump wanted it, I don't want it. He almost -- we saw, there was reporting out of Alaska where he had asked the Republican Senators there, who were aligned with Republicans, hey, do you want me to change the name of Mt. Denali back to Mt. McKinley, and they said, no, no, no. How much of this could also be about wanting to -- I mean, the part where Ryan Zinke announces this and maybe he gets some pressure from Rick Scott or even just, hello, I'm not a fan of this. How much of this is that?

MADDEN: It's transactional politics, many would argue, at its worst. There's precedence for this. We remember during the Obamacare negotiations, the Cornhusker kickback. Ben Nelson and the folks in Nebraska got what they wanted, but the criticism just mounted over time and it became tougher to defend.

KEILAR: Symone?

SANDERS: Kevin's right there. But in this particular instance, the administration is not going about the business of politics extremely well. We could say that about a lot of things that they're doing. And this particular -- what looks like throwing a line to a favorite governor of theirs, because they want this governor to do well, as opposed to really having a policy across the board that works well for them down the line.

KEILAR: But real quick, do you think the pressure will be enough to have the president, the administration capitulate for other governors?

MADDEN: I don't know. It's incumbent upon them to really argue the merits of their decision because now they're in this position -- and we haven't even talked about that - the now the whole emphasis and the focus is on the process and it doesn't look good.

SANDERS: The Trump administration doesn't even believe that climate change is real, so I don't know if they really care about curbing drilling off the coast of anywhere for the environment.

KEILAR: All right.


Do you want to take that on?

All right, Kevin Madden, Symone Sanders, thank you so much to both --


[11:39:33] KEILAR: It happens to all of us at times, doesn't it?

All right, coming up, California is reeling. Deadly mudslides there, crushing home, leaving hundreds of people trapped. Officials are now scrambling to make rescues. We're going to have a live report, next.


KEILAR: Southern California is being ravaged by deadly flash floods and mudslides. A river of mud flowing into Santa Barbara County. It has buried cars, destroyed homes. It has killed at least 15 people. And dozens of people had to be rescued after the mud crashed through walls and into homes.

Here's what one resident had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Feel lucky. And thank God they came and rescued us about 4:00 in the morning.


KEILAR: And CNN's Paul Vercammen is live for us from Montecito.

This is just a little down the coast from Santa Barbara. And, Paul, tell us about the damage. We can see some of it behind you.

[11:44:54] PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right behind me, look at this, that's a tree, Brianna. So much debris tangled up. Some of it came down from right above this road where houses were knocked right off their foundation. But these houses also destroyed. You can look through here. This is supposed to be that front picture window. Look inside. The window is blown out by some sort of gas explosion or incident.

There are still people missing in all of this, Brianna. And that's what has a lot of residents tense.

And just a short time ago, walking up this very street that turned into a river, we caught up with Diane Brewer, who organized a search party to try to find her missing friend. Let's listen.


DIANE BREWER, ORGANZIED SEARCH PARTY TO FIND MISSING FRIEND: I didn't find her because her boyfriend got swept away and watched her be -- holding on to the front door. And then at night, he was calling her, because he was stuck between two boulders and a tree. And they didn't find -- and so I put everybody together last night, because we were just walking to east valley road, so we could just find her. You know, I just want to find my friend.


VERCAMMEN: High anxiety and tension in Montecito because of those missing people.

Also, just to the northeast of me, a neighborhood, Romero Canyon, the people there were told to shelter in place, hundreds of them, because they were cutoff. Huge boulders everywhere, trees everywhere, telephone poles, a lot of heavy lifting. The county has not even been able to red tag houses yet and try to determine how many were damaged or destroyed. By my count, it's in the dozens.

Back to you, Brianna. KEILAR: Oh, my god, Paul, this is -- I mean, this is horrific, as

we're seeing the pictures here and listening to that woman who is, like so many people, looking for missing friends and family. What is it going to take to dig out of this, to be able to determine where all of the missing and lost people are?

VERCAMMEN: It is going to take some heavy lifting, no pun intended. Let's look again at some of these houses and the debris field. I was also talking to the county, and they said they've heard good news that they're going to get in the Army Corps of Engineers and state emergency officials to help with these beleaguered and beat-up county officials. You'll recall, they just went through this with the Thomas Fire, and now the second half of this reckoning with a flood that did all this.

KEILAR: All right. Paul Vercammen, with that live report from Montecito, California, thank you.

Now, changing directions here. From out the door as White House chief strategist to out the door at "Breitbart," it has really been quite the fall from power for Steve Bannon. So what's next? We'll talk about that.


[11:52:09] KEILAR: President Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is stepping down from "Breitbart." And Bannon has also been booted from Sirius XM radio. The departure follows a public rift with President Trump after the release of the new book "Fire and Fury." In that book, Bannon took personal jabs at members of Trump's family.

Now many, including late night hosts, are asking what will Steve Bannon do next.


UNIDENTIFIED LATE-NIGHT HOST: Former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has stepped down from his position as head of "Breitbart News." So unemployed. I guess all this time, he really was dressing for the job he wanted.



KEILAR: Joining me now is CNN senior media reporter, Oliver Darcy.

You reported, Oliver, that folks who work at "Breitbart" were stunned by Bannon's departure.


KEILAR: Tell us more.

DARCY: Bannon had been telling people that the idea that he was leaving "Breitbart" was nonsense, and a lot of "Breitbart" staffers heard this and they believed it. When the news came out yesterday in the "New York Times" initially that Bannon was being ousted from "Breitbart," it stunned them. They didn't see this coming.

KEILAR: Clearly, he didn't see it coming if that's what he was imparting to them. That's the impression that they gave?

DARCY: He must have known it was coming. We reported last week there was a hard push to oust him from the Web site and convince the CEO to essentially fire him. He must have known this was coming. He was defiant to the end, and he was telling people around him this is all nonsense and, you know, he's staying at "Breitbart." They believed him and were stunned that he was ousted.

KEILAR: No "Breitbart." That means no Sirius XM radio where he could reach people. His benefactors, the Mercers, have pulled their financial support. FOX News puts out a statement that says we're not going touch him with a 10-foot pole. They said, we're not going to hire him. That seems to be what everyone is saying, we're not touching this guy with a 10-foot poll. Without patronage, without a megaphone, what does he do?

DARCY: That's really unclear. I think he wants to stay involved in politics, but he has, at this point, no real platform or vessel to get his message out. He was using "Breitbart" to articulate this nationalist, populist version of conservatism and make that popular. Now that he's not at "Breitbart and he has no proximity to Trump, no billionaire benefactors funding his endeavors, it's unclear how he will stay relevant in politics.

KEILAR: It's hard in this day and age -- with technology, and you can launch things on your own, it's hard to shut someone down if people want to listen to them. Do you get the sense there is a swathe or at least an enthusiastic niche out there that would want to hear what Steve Bannon has to say where he could somehow put up some sort of show online or something?

DARCY: That's going to be interesting. I think he did alienate a lot of people when he went after the president. He made a mistake in the president's followers for Steve Bannon followers. And if you look at the comments, for instance, over the past few days on "Breitbart," people are kind of going against Bannon himself. So I'm not sure. I'm sure there's some audience he can reach, but it's unclear how large that is.

[11:55:20] KEILAR: Wow. Real quick, what message does this send to other people who cross Trump?

DARCY: Do not cross Trump. Bannon learned the hard way that if you cross Trump, it's not good news for you. Like I said, mistaking the Trump fan base for his own fan base and it wasn't a good idea.

KEILAR: It's interesting.

Oliver, great reporting. Really appreciate it.

DARCY: Thank you. KEILAR: Oliver Darcy with us here.

Up next, we have a live look at the White House. Right now, President Trump is holding a cabinet meeting. We could be hearing from the president at any moment. Stay with CNN.


[12:00:13] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King.