Return to Transcripts main page


Reports of Building Collapsing as Flood Rages in Streets of Maryland; Rudy Giuliani Suggests Strategy to Undermine Mueller Probe; U.S. Delegation Crosses Into North Korea for Talks; New Volcanic Fissure Opens, Another Doubles in Size in Hawaii; Looking Back at 1968. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 27, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: -- them to turn around and not drive through the town's flooded streets.

An eyewitness is on the phone with us now from Ellicott City. Kali Harris has been stranded by the raging waters there all afternoon. CNN photojournalist Chris Turner is also on the scene, he will join us in a second.

I believe we're going to begin with Kali, though. Kali Harris who's standing by in the middle of all of this.

Kali, just first of all, describe what you're seeing right now outside your window.

KALI HARRIS, STRANDED BY FLOODING: I'm actually -- I was actually evacuated from my home. And so I had to go back behind my building and down some rooftops and come across the street and through the waters. And I'm up the hill so I'm not in my apartment anymore and the water's receding now. But the destruction was just unbelievable. There were trees sticking out everywhere and cars standing up straight. Totally upright everywhere. Buildings wiped out. Windows gone. Inventory from the stores everywhere. It's all wiped out.

NOBLES: So, Kali, were you asked to evacuate or did you make that decision on your own? Were you facilitated in any way by first responders?

HARRIS: Yes. So when the flooding started the first responders came into my building and told me to stay put. And then when it kind -- when it receded more to a point where I could get across safely they came in and helped me evacuate.

NOBLES: So we are actually looking at the video that you posted online earlier today. It is absolutely incredible to see that water just flowing down the main street there in Ellicott City. How quickly did the flooding start? Was it completely dry at one point, then you looked out your window and it was essentially a river?

HARRIS: It was -- sorry. I'm just taking it all in. It was a little bit more of a slow rise than it was the flood in 2016. But it was within about a half an hour that it started flooding the streets and got really high and as fast as it was as it is in the video. NOBLES: Yes. Kali, do you want to just take a moment? Are you OK?

HARRIS: Yes. I'm OK.

NOBLES: I understand that you're going through a lot. And I appreciate the fact that you're giving us the opportunity to show our viewers what you and so many folks in that area are dealing with.

I know, Kali, this must be difficult for you in part because you went through this two years ago. When you saw that water, did it bring back a lot of those memories of what you experienced before?

HARRIS: Oh, absolutely. I was just standing out my window when the rain started and every time it rains I usually go to my window and just wait there to kind of watch and monitor the situation, and so I did the same thing today and it just -- never let up and it just started flooding all over again.

NOBLES: So what have officials told you? Do you hope that the worst is behind you? Is there the chance that more flooding could happen later today? Could it be weeks before your life is back to normal there? What's your sense of what the future holds?

HARRIS: Well, the last time I was evacuated from my building I couldn't get in for a week. And I was displaced from my apartment for four months. So I'm expecting something similar for being displaced from the work and my house and maybe not being able to get my stuff. I haven't heard anything from officials yet except more rain is possible. So just kind of on hold to wait and see. But I'm assuming all of the displaced for a good couple of months again similar to what I was in 2016.

NOBLES: Wow. Will you still live there? Is it worth it?

HARRIS: You know, I don't know. To be honest with you. It was last time but I don't know. I don't know. Living through this twice is very surreal. I don't know if I could come back.

NOBLES: Yes. I can understand. And finally, Kali, everybody that you know in that area as far as you know everyone is safe? Have you heard any reports of anyone being injured?

HARRIS: No. No. We have a community group on Facebook and I believe -- I haven't gotten a chance to look because I've been trying to keep in touch with everybody I know to let them know I'm safe. From what I'm seeing for the most part everybody's relatively safe. So yes.

NOBLES: All right. Well, despite everything you've been through, that is very good news, Kali. We so appreciate you taking the time given everything you've been through today. You know, the fact that you were able to share this video, got this message out to a lot of people beyond where you are, we certainly appreciate your perspective, and please stay safe and we wish you the best of luck as you recover from this flood.

I want to move on now to CNN photojournalist Chris Turner, who lives in Maryland not too far from this area, I know that, and this is video that Chris actually shot not too long ago.

[20:05:09] Chris, give me an idea of what you're seeing right now.

CHRIS TURNER, CNN PHOTOJOURNALIST: Right now, Ryan, we're seeing a lot of the water has receded. A lot of the mud and debris leftover is laying down. We just saw Governor Hogan walk down the steps through the mud to go survey some of the damage. Some of the residents are moving back towards the area. There was one area parking lot that I did take pictures of where the floodwaters were up to the roofs of cars and that is now just mud. But people are making their way through the mud kind of trying to assess the damage of what just happened.

NOBLES: I see in that one bit of video that you shot it looks as though the pavement is just ripped apart creating a huge hole. We see these cars being tossed around. Yes, that's that video there. I mean, that is pretty remarkable. I mean, I know you live in this area. Have you ever seen anything like this before?

TURNER: You know, I remember in 2016 when the flood happened, my wife and our kids were -- and I were, going to actually eat lunch here and decided against it for some reason and then next thing we knew this place was flooding. So we've seen the video of the flood from 2016. I have rarely seen anything like that. But I know that that road that was washed away is actually an access point at the top of the hill coming down into the bottom of historic downtown Ellicott City and that that's going to take some definitely long time to repair.

There's a tree that was cracking as it was -- the soil was eroding and falling in. It was very, very eerie to watch that happening.

NOBLES: I can only imagine. And you -- I know you told our producers that you also smelled gas at one point. I would imagine there's more than just the concern about the water damage when you have something like this happen.

TURNER: There's a multitude of concerns here. There's mud damage. There's, you know, you never know what's underneath but this water's pushing a car swiftly down the street so you never know what that car has hit, what that -- you know, what that water's done inside homes. There was a smell of gas. They did ask us to back off and now they kind of let us back towards the scene of all this destruction. And hopefully, you know, this beautiful, quaint little downtown can get back to normal soon.

NOBLES: Yes. Chris Turner, just one small example of CNN photojournalists that rush to danger when everybody else is rushing out, thank you for bringing us these incredible pictures.

Chris, please stay safe. And we will check back with you in a little bit.

Now let's get the full scope of exactly what's happening there by bringing in meteorologist Tom Sater who has experience covering the weather in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore areas.

Tom, what should we expect? Are residents there through the worst of it? Is there more to be concerned about?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Ryan, we've got good news and we've got some really bad news, too. Obviously this is bad enough. The good news is the third round of thunderstorms moving in have really weakened so therefore the water's receding but the Patapsco River has risen almost 18 feet in two hours setting an all-time record high crest. It's unbelievable.

To set the stage, focus on just the eastern and southeastern U.S. We've been stuck in a pattern for about three weeks now where there's been this stationary boundary across Washington and Baltimore, spreading back to the Midwest. So the southeast has been hitting -- you know, seeing thunderstorms, the ground is saturated.

We toss in Alberto which this is much worse than anything Alberto is going to give us. Alberto is a nuance storm for those that went to the beach. Sure, we need to watch it because that moisture is going to be lifting northward back into this area this week but if you follow the thunderstorms, if you follow those lightning strikes, round one, round two and three. One, two on the same area. We call it training, riding right on that frontal system like box cars of a train.

This is the third one, though, that is dying out. National Weather Service, believe it or not saying we thought sure six, seven, eight inches, they're saying as much as 6 to 12 inches of rain have fallen. That is staggering. That's like a freak of nature. We're getting reports now of water rescues, Highway 29 in Columbia.

You've got Catonsville, Ellicott City, we've got an emergency warning that's been extended until 10:30. What that means for Howard County, you head into east central Frederick County including Baltimore here, anyone who lives along the banks of the Patapsco River and its tributaries need to get to the highest level they can.

These are some of the totals we're finding. It's almost 10 inches of rain. I mean, this fell in a short amount of time but what's really staggering here is I want to show this. This is a river gauge. The blue line is where the level was and all of a sudden in two hours goes above the record which was 23.6 feet. Hits 24.13. That's almost a 18-foot rise in two hours. Therefore, an all-time record.

[20:10:02] But the rain is lightening up. Unfortunately we've got to watch what other precipitation shield that has brought up to the north from Alberto. Anything is going to be bad news. But again a freak of nature dropping six to 12 inches almost unheard of.

NOBLES: Yes. Tom, those gauges you're showing us fall right in line with what Kali told us, she said it was a dry street and within a half an hour a raging, powerful river. Just absolutely incredible pictures out of Maryland.

Tom Sater, thank you for that.

We'll continue to follow this breaking news. We're going to take a very quick break and be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: A health setback for former president George H.W. Bush. He's back in the hospital tonight after experiencing low blood pressure and fatigue. He is expected to stay there for a few days for observation but a spokesman says he's awake and alert and not in any discomfort.

You may recall that last month the 93-year-old had to be hospitalized for a blood infection just a day after the funeral for his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush.

[20:15:05] In an e-mail to friends and family, the former president's chief of staff struck a more reassuring tone saying, quote, "I guess he partied too hard with the American legion yesterday. Darn it."

Also tonight, Rudy Giuliani uncensored. The president's attorney suggesting in a new interview with CNN there is a strategy to undermine the work the special counsel is doing. And it has to do with all those conspiracies about the FBI spying on the Trump campaign. Take a listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: They're giving us the material. I couldn't do it if they didn't have the material. They're giving us the material to do it. Of course we have to do it in defending the president. We're defending -- to a large extent, remember, Dana, we're defending here -- it is for public opinion because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach. Members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, are going to be informed a lot by their constituent. So a jury is -- as it should be is the American people.


NOBLES: Impeach or not impeach. CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House.

Boris, now despite this apparent PR strategy against Robert Mueller, Giuliani still says the president wants to do an interview with him.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Certainly surprising, Ryan, considering the string of attacks we've seen from President Trump and some of his surrogates aiming to discredit the special counsel. Just today the president referred to it again as a witch hunt and referred to Russia's actions during the 2016 election as so-called meddling despite the fact that there have been more than 20 indictments in that probe including to some dozen or so Russians who have been indicted for meddling in the 2016 election.

It is surprising, also notable, that Giuliani claimed that this investigation would already be over if the president didn't have this adamant stance that he wants to meet with Robert Mueller one-on-one. Listen to this exchange with Dana Bash on "STATE OF THE UNION."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GIULIANI: Well, if he wasn't thinking about it and it wasn't an active possibility we would be finished with that by now and we've moved on to getting the investigation over with another way. But he is adamant in wanting to do it. We are -- the president, but we're more convinced as we see that this is a rigged investigation. Now we have this whole new spygate thing thrown on top of it, on top of already very legitimate questions.


SANCHEZ: And, Ryan, one more note. The president has been tweeting about the Russia investigation over the weekend, including one sort of curious tweet he sent out this morning referring to the young and beautiful lives that have been destroyed by the Russia investigation. Unclear exactly who he means. I reached out to some folks in the White House press team to try to get some clarity on this. Is he talking about George Papadopoulos or Michael Flynn or other figures within his campaign that have pled guilty to very serious crimes. No response from the White House, though -- Ryan.

NOBLES: All right. Boris Sanchez live for us tonight at the White House. Boris, thank you.

Coming up, our panel weighs in on Giuliani's admissions, plus Hawaii on high alert. Lava from a volcano now reaching 2,000 acres. We are live on the big island.


[20:22:43] NOBLES: Welcome back. The president's attorney Rudy Giuliani laying out today what he's comfortable with the president talking about and not talking about with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Listen.


GIULIANI: If all the -- everything can be worked out then they would probably limit it to collusion and obstruction. The collusion part, we're pretty comfortable with because there has been none. The obstruction part, I'm not as comfortable with. I'm not. The president is fine with it. He's innocent.


NOBLES: All right. Let's bring in our panel to discuss this. Joining us from Louisville, Kentucky, CNN political commentator and former special assistant to President George W. Bush Scott Jennings, and in our nation's capital, the deputy managing editor for the "Weekly Standard," Kelly Jane Torrance.

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, you know, Ryan, I have to say, I take a little bit of a contrarian stance on Rudy Giuliani. I know a lot of people in Washington think, you know, what's going on with him, he's a little crazy, he's saying this, he's saying that. He goes on the shows, he says too much. But I think the most telling thing that he said in this interview today on CNN was talking about not making Trump the victim.

Now Trump himself with his tweets constantly tries to make himself the victim of Robert Mueller's investigation. But Rudy Giuliani said that he doesn't want to talk about Trump firing someone because that would make Trump look like a victim, and that was the problem with Richard Nixon, is once you look like oh, I'm a victim of this that means you're a victim because you did something wrong, and so Rudy Giuliani is the first lawyer of Donald Trump's that has really heavily gone on the offense.

Yes, it's a controversial tactic but you know the other tactics didn't work very well and so perhaps this one will.

NOBLES: Going on the offense means attempting at least in some respect to undermine the credibility of the Mueller investigation and, Scott, a recent CNN poll found that just 39 percent of Republicans think that Trump should testify with Robert Mueller. That's actually down from 54 percent in March.

I mean, how much do you think that President Trump's decision to either sit or not sit for an interview could impact Republicans in the midterm elections?

[20:25:00] SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Republicans by and large believe this investigation has gone on too long. They do want to see it concluded and they do want to know if Russia meddled in the election, but I think a lot of Republicans think the president is being unfairly targeted. Whether he is or he isn't, we'll find out.

I think what Rudy and company are doing right now, though, is basically what the Clinton White House did in the 1990s. You brought up some polling. What the Clinton White House was successfully able to do was target the special counsel, target the people around Ken Starr, make it seem like they were being unfairly treated.

Bill Clinton's poll numbers went up and up and up. People lost faith in the special counsel and at the time they knew what Rudy knows, which is it's unlikely you can indict a sitting president. They were aimed at the only possible political resolution, which his impeachment, which is conducted of course in the court of public opinion. I mean, the way I see it, Bill Clinton's vast right-wing conspiracy is Donald Trump's deep state. They're running essentially the same playbook.

NOBLES: Yes. Very similar. And there is evidence, Kelly Jane, that it's already working. That same CNN poll finds that 44 percent of people agree with the way that Mueller is handling the investigation but that's down from 48 percent in March. Is this the proof that the president's attacks and what Rudy Giuliani is talking about, essentially this political PR campaign that it's working?

TORRANCE: I think it is because let's face it. We don't actually know very much about how Robert Mueller is handling this probe. He does not go on the air. He is not tweeting. He is keeping very quiet. Now yes, there have been some leaks but it seems to me that those leaks have come from people who have actually been interviewed by Robert Mueller or people connected to them. Not people on the team itself. And so I think this PR tactic is working because Robert Mueller is keeping very -- we don't know what information he has. And that's why, you know, we can't make any prior judgment about, you know, whether his investigation is --

NOBLES: Right.

TORRANCE: You know, fair or not until we see what his evidence and when he presents it but I think that, yes, the PR -- that to me says it is working and I do have to say, you know, this whole new stuff about spygate, that has nothing to do with Robert Mueller's probe. That happened.

NOBLES: Right.

TORRANCE: That was the FBI long before Robert Mueller came on because that was before Donald Trump was elected. But they are successfully connecting those things in the public's mind and I think you're right, Ryan. Those poll numbers are showing that it's having some effect.

NOBLES: I mean, the average American is not watching every machination of this investigation and able to compare one aspect of it to another. They lump it altogether. That's part of the effectiveness of throwing spygate out there and connecting it to Robert Mueller even though that doesn't necessarily add up.

But, Scott, to that end, you know, ultimately if Robert Mueller has got the goods on Donald Trump that may still convince the president to fire him or Rod Rosenstein, and there are many Republicans who at least behind the scenes that are talking about being concerned about that and there's only one of them talking about it publicly and that's Senator Jeff Flake. Listen to what he said this morning on NBC.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I can tell you behind the scenes, there is a lot of alarm. There is concern that the president is laying the groundwork to move on Bob Mueller or Rosenstein. And if that were to happen, obviously that would cause a constitutional crisis.

There is concern behind the scenes. I've been concerned that we haven't spoken up loudly enough and told the president, you simply can't go there. And he's obviously probing the edges as much as he can --


FLAKE: -- to see how far Congress will go, and we've got to push back harder than we have.


NOBLES: Scott, I've heard you say many times and you've said it to me on these airwaves that the best thing for the president is to allow this investigation to go forward. Do you think Republicans in Congress should actually codify that in law, protect Robert Mueller's investigation with a piece of legislation?

JENNINGS: No, I don't. I don't think it's necessary because I don't think the president's going to fire anybody. I think they're going to let this investigation go forward. We've essentially been having this same conversation now for months and months and months. Are we going to wake up tomorrow and find that Donald Trump has fired somebody? And it's never happened. I actually think many, many senior Republicans --


NOBLES: Well, he has -- but, Scott, Scott, he has fired some people. He did fire the FBI director James Comey. He's not above not firing people. That --

TORRANCE: And remember when he said he wasn't going to fire Rex Tillerson and then a couple of months later fired Rex Tillerson?

NOBLES: Right. I mean --

JENNINGS: You know, Rex Tillerson wasn't conducting -- wasn't conducting an investigation into the president and we didn't have a bunch of senior Republicans like -- that we've seen come forward, warning the president. It would be a very bad idea for your clean hour at the DOJ.

Look, the best course of action is to just get this thing over with. I think firing people would prolong it, getting it over with, getting the information out there, and then seeing what you have to deal with at that point, that is the way to expedite this. I think firing people prolongs it and that of course prolongs your political headaches.

NOBLES: But, Kelly Jane, so why is it that Republicans in the Congress are reluctant to take that step of passing a law? Why did they not want to do it?

TORRANCE: Well, I think part of it is that they -- some of them, I mean, you've got someone like Ben Sasse who is not a Trump fan at all and he does not support this legislation because he thinks it's unconstitutional.

[20:30:07] He thinks the president does have the right to hire and fire people in the executive branch. Now that doesn't mean that he thinks it's a good idea that Trump should or should not do this. That doesn't mean he thinks it wouldn't be obstruction of justice. But there is the question for a lot of Republicans, if we have this legislation, is it actually going against how the Constitution and how the executive branch works in this country?

Surprisingly I think some Republicans are thinking more long term and big picture rather than just this presidency.

NOBLES: And quickly, Scott, I want you to react to this tweet from the president not too long ago. He said, "Why didn't President Obama do something about the so-called Russian meddling when he was told about it by the FBI before the election?" This seems to indicate that the president still is unwilling to concede that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Isn't that a problem?

JENNINGS: Well, I don't know. The administration and several people in Washington have all conceded. Reports and committees and other people, the intelligence community, have all said the Russians meddled. I think what the president's getting at there is this. This did happen on Barack Obama's watch. He told the Russians after the '12 election he had more flexibility. He did not enforce his red line in Syria and I think the president's point is no wonder they tried to meddle in the election because they knew we were weak at the time.

This is unexplored territory and I think it will matter to people if Mueller finds the Russians meddled and he finds that there was collusion, even if it was unwilling collusion. There are going to be people saying out there, wait a minute, why didn't the previous administration put a stop to this if they knew about it? And we know they knew about it because they admitted they know.

NOBLES: All right. Excellent conversation as always. Scott Jennings and Kelly Jane Torrance, thank you so much for joining me.

TORRANCE: Thanks, Ryan.

NOBLES: Coming up, a new sign that the North Korea summit is back on. A U.S. delegation traveling to the country to prepare for a potential meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. We're live on the Korean peninsula.


[20:36:20] NOBLES: And now to the maybe yes, maybe no meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. A team of American diplomats and officials arrived a short time ago in North Korea. They're doing advance work ahead of what might be a history-making moment. A face- to-face meeting between the two leaders.

I say might be because just a couple of days ago in writing President Trump pulled the plug on that meeting. June 12th in Singapore. That's the date in place everyone decided upon.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea.

Paula, there's a lot of advance work being done for a summit that nobody can say is definitely going to happen.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Ryan. And that gives us an indication that it could well happen June 12th. We've heard the U.S. president say that that is his favored date. So this delegation in North Korea at the moment that is an interesting one because it's headed up by a delegation or the delegation's headed up by Sung Kim, who's the ambassador to the Philippines. He was the ambassador here in South Korea and he has negotiated in the past with North Korea so you have a man there who understands North Korea better than most, and understands the pitfalls and the difficulties in trying to negotiate with Pyongyang. And at the same time we also know that there is a U.S. delegation in

Singapore or on its way and they will be looking at the more logistical side of it. So the site surveys for this potential summit. So what you say, for all intents and purposes it looks like this summit is going ahead. We heard from the South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday, as well, talking about his surprise meeting with Kim Jong-un on Saturday saying he hopes that the summit goes smoothly, not if but when. And also gave us an indication of what exactly Kim Jong- un is looking for from Mr. Trump saying that he's looking for guarantees of regime survival.

That is his all through President Moon, not directly from Kim Jong-un himself, but also saying he thinks that there will be economic benefits for North Korea which he said to Mr. Kim and said that he has to sit down next to Mr. Trump face-to-face so that he can have these guarantees given to him by the U.S. president.

We've heard the U.S. president say this before saying he does guarantee Kim's regime survival, says that he'll be safe, he'll be happy, his country will be rich -- Ryan.

NOBLES: Paula, President Trump despite cancelling the summit still seems optimistic that it's going to happen. Do South Korean officials and the Korean people share that optimism?

HANCOCKS: Absolutely. The president of South Korea wants this to happen. He staked his credibility on this dialogue. He is the driving force behind this. The people of South Korea, for the majority of them they would like to see it go ahead or at least they approve of what President Moon is doing. His approval rating somewhere near 80 percent give and take a few percentage points depending on which one you look at. That is incredible approval rating showing that they like what he is doing -- Ryan.

NOBLES: All right. Paula Hancocks live in Seoul for us. Paula, thank you very much.

Coming up, lava from the Kilauea volcano become so widespread it is visible from space. We'll get a live to Hawaii's big island for an update.


[20:43:53] NOBLES: The situation on Hawaii's big island is getting more dire by the minute. About two hours ago we learned of a new fissure in the Leilani Estates. It's not threatening any structures yet. Another fissure has doubled in size in the last 24 hours. Another spewing lava more than 100 feet in the air. Officials say the eruption is vigorous right now and continues to cut off neighborhoods and consumes homes. The molten rock has devoured almost four square miles in areas so massive it can be seen from space.

Miguel Marquez joins us now live from Pahoa, Hawaii. And we're in the fourth week of this nightmare. Just seems to be getting worse.

Miguel, what are you seeing right now? MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, we're 24 fissures now

and it is getting worse. Talking to a volcanologist about where this is all going she said that we've only seen a small bit of the lava that was in Kilauea, working its way to this massive plumbing system that's in front of us.

I want to show you, been watching these fissures in front of us for much of the day. This -- I believe this is fissure 22. It has just become active again and has started to fountain out that lava.

[20:45:04] This is fairly small by some of them that we've seen but it is growing. It started just a few feet, now it's looking 10 to 15 feet out there. And that live camera that we've had up digitally for the last couple of weeks we have moved it and if you look at that camera now that I believe is fissure 16 that we can see from here.

Keep in mind, everything that you are looking at now two weeks ago that was form land. It was all green. It was cows out to pasture. It was perfectly bucolic and lovely and now it is a complete lava field. Several dozen feet now of lava if not some hundreds of feet of lava in that area.

This is becoming very active, as well. One of the biggest problems that people here will face in the next 24, 48 hours, the trade winds that typically flow from the north to the southwest basically of the island. They're going to change directions and start blowing north and east, and that will hit communities like Puna and possibly Hilo. Much bigger populations in that part of the island so anybody, the young people, the older people, anybody with breathing problems could have a serious issue.

A lot of sulfur dioxide in the air which, you know, just -- it just causes everything from headaches to nausea to just a bad throat to just about everything you can imagine so it could be a real problem for people in the days ahead -- Ryan.

NOBLES: Miguel, if Kilauea outright erupts is there any indication of just how big it could be?

MARQUEZ: What they're modeling right now is 1924. That's the last time it erupted in a large manner and what they're seeing is that the crater inside Kilauea, the caldera of Kilauea has expanded from 12 acres to 90 acres. As that soil falls in, the summit itself has shrunk so they're thinking that if it happens, it could be like a 1924 level which was ash for about two weeks, 20,000 feet in the air -- Ryan.

NOBLES: Wow. Incredible. All right. Miguel Marquez, you and your team stay safe. We appreciate that report.

Next, in the midst of a volatile time in American politics, CNN looks back at a tumultuous year that changed this country forever. A preview of the new original series event "1968" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:51:44] NOBLES: Turmoil, tragedy and triumph. The CNN original series event "1968" looks back at that year that changed American history forever. A year marked by contentious presidential election, a raging Vietnam War and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Junior and Robert F. Kennedy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father really focused on the people in this country. His appeal was to really the most disenfranchised classes. People who live in Appalachia, blacks who live in the Delta, people from Harlem, Oakland and great farm workers. Very similar to Martin Luther King focusing on the poor and working people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the aftermath of Dr. King's assassination, it's Coretta Scott King who has the legacy of her husband to draw upon to make the case that change was needed now.

CORETTA SCOTT KING, MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR'S WIFE: My husband always said that if anything happened to him, to carry on his work for his people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coretta was always an activist. Before Martin was an activist. And she continued to be outspoken in order to make the point that you can kill my husband but this movement is going to go on.


NOBLES: CNN's Ana Cabrera recently sat down with three special guests to learn more about tonight's episode.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Tim, let me start with you, with all of the upheaval we talk about in today's politics, American culture, you think about 1968 and really, it's no comparison, is it?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No, I mean, we live in anxious times now but 1968 was a time of upheaval, just to remember some of the horrific events of the time. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior is assassinate assassinated. Robert Kennedy is assassinated. The country is divided and for the first time the country is against a war in far off Vietnam.

The Democratic Party is imploding. There is a sense of tension and there is a violence in the streets, there's unrest in the streets. 1968 was a time when America was tearing itself apart and no one knew what would come next.

CABRERA: Clara, let me ask you about the youth movement because you've written a lot about this and the massive student protest at Columbia University for example in 1968. Do you see connections between those demonstrations then and what we're seeing today with the youth movement, particularly when you look at the call to action on gun reform following these school shootings? CLARA BINGHAM, AUTHOR, "WITNESS TO THE REVOLUTION": Absolutely. I

mean, right now we are seeing the first mass student movement since 1968 and the high schoolers now in '68, in the late '60s it was mostly college but high school was also really involved in opposing the war, and millions and millions of students were taking to the streets and it's important to remember back then 27 million young American men were eligible for the draft. And so it galvanized the entire country.

And so we are seeing that to a smaller extent but in a similar way now today and I really think '68 was a blueprint for the student movement.

CABRERA: David, I want to ask you about the politics, specifically the presidential race of 1968. It was interesting to say the least.

[20:55:04] You've worked on some pretty contentious presidential elections in your time advising President Obama in 2008 and 2012. How do these recent elections compare to the race in '68?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, '68 was an astonishing race. First of all you had an incumbent president who almost was beaten in the New Hampshire primary and then shocked the nation by withdrawing from his race for reelection. You had the emergence of Robert Kennedy as a candidate. I believe Robert Kennedy would have been elected in 1968, he was assassinated, having lived through that. I remember that with great sadness.

And then you had a race between a very damaged Vice President Hubert Humphrey who emerged as the Democrat nominee and was carrying Lyndon Johnson's water into that race. You had Richard Nixon and let us not forget George Wallace. George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama, who ran as a third party candidate and carried five states in that election. And by the way, you talk about were there roots of today's issues back in '68, look at some of the rhetoric of George Wallace and look at some of the rhetoric of Donald Trump and you will find a direct line of themes and thoughts that very divisive --

CABRERA: And yet George Wallace did win --

AXELROD: Very provocative. No, he didn't win but he pioneered themes that I think would be familiar to people today.

CABRERA: Tim, only for Nixon to find out, no one is above the law.

NAFTALI: Right. Well, Richard Nixon's campaign engages in the biggest dirty trick of the 1968 campaign, which is that it establishes contact with the South Vietnamese government and encourages the South Vietnamese government to obstruct a U.S. diplomatic effort to end the war in Vietnam, and they're doing this because they know that Hubert Humphrey, who is inching closer and closer to Richard Nixon in the polls might actually win the election if the Democrats are viewed as the party of peace so Richard Nixon actually obstructs through his intermediaries a U.S. attempt to try to end the war.

CABRERA: And that was before Watergate.

NAFTALI: Well, that lays the ground. CABRERA: Yes.

NAFTALI: Because Nixon comes into office with a big secret.

BINGHAM: And then LBJ knew about this and didn't want to affect the election.

NAFTALI: Yes, that's a big --

BINGHAM: Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

NAFTALI: Sounds very familiar, and LBJ goes to Hubert Humphrey and says this before the election. If you want to use this information, you can. And Hubert Humphrey says no, I'm not going to tear the country apart over this.

CABRERA: Quickly if you will, Clara, talk about the assassinations of Martin Luther King Junior and Bobby Kennedy. And how that impacted the psyche? So we have this civil rights icon, a really social justice icon being killed.

BINGHAM: I think it was so profoundly devastating for everybody in the country who cared about those two men and it also ultimately disenfranchised many of the youth of America who held up so much hope with both of those men.

CABRERA: David, you were one of those young people.


CABRERA: In 1968 as a teenager, you say the events of that year really had an impact on you in the career path that you pursued.

AXELROD: Well, look, I can't -- it's hard to describe what it was like to be a young teenager in that time and, you know, I came of age in the Kennedy era. I'm an idealist still and I believe in the idealism that the Kennedys stood for and there was a feeling that something bigger than one person had died with Robert Kennedy.

I also remember, Ana, being home alone and seeing the bullets and that Martin Luther King had been shot and killed and seeing the haunting tape of him talking the night before about how he might not get to the promise land but as a people, we'll get to the promise land. I remember getting up and putting the chain on the door in my apartment in New York City, just out of a sense of dread and fear, and of what might come next.

It was a really, really dramatically haunting time. So just to harken back to your initial theme, you know, we live in tumultuous times now but nothing like this. It really felt like a coming apart of our country and as a young man, I felt that profoundly.

CABRERA: David Axelrod, Tim Naftali, and Clara Bingham, thank you all for joining us.


NOBLES: The CNN original series event "1968" airs next right here on CNN.

And that does it for me this weekend. I'm Ryan Nobles, filling in for Ana Cabrera, thank you so much for watching. Have a great week and a very special Memorial Day.