Return to Transcripts main page


Gallup Weekly Poll Has Trump's Approval Rating at 42 Percent; 6 Dead, 7 missing as Deadly Carr Fire Continues to Grow; Trump Meets with Italy's Populist Prime Minister; Six Women Accuse CBS CEO of Sexual Misconduct; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 30, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR-AT-LARGE: -- the most part, you've got candidates, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, all moving as far left as they can. The embrace of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by a number of them. Basically under the belief that you can't be too far left in a Democratic primary. That's generally true. You kind of want to be on the more liberal or if you are a Republican more conservative end of things.

I don't know how much talk of radical centrism will help Mitch Landrieu. Remember he's not that well-known. The way I think to shoot up in a Democratic primary is sort of the Howard Dean method of '04, which run to the left. That was more than a decade ago. But I think if you are going to see a dark horse emerge, if given what we know of what's happened in the 2018 cycle, it is much more likely that that candidate is -- I'm just throwing a name out there. Chris Murphy from my home state of Connecticut, a senator who's very liberal on guns, very outspoken on the need for more gun legislation in the wake of Newtown, has a very liberal record generally speaking. That's where I think the dark horse race is.

I don't know that there's a lot of space or vote more importantly in the sort of --


CILLIZZA: Middle of the party in a primary.

HARLOW: I tried to get an answer on this, Harry, from Democratic Congressman Denny Heck last hour. You know, who is it? Are you the party of Pelosi or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And he said, it's neither. It's neither. We're all. But you can't be all, right?

ENTER: No, you can't be all. But, you know, at the end of the day, any political party in the center when you only have two of them has to have a relatively big tent. But you can be sure that in the upcoming fall campaign and then leading into 2020, the Republicans are going to make Democrats, force Democrats to say who exactly they are. And they're going to try and paint -- I mean, either Pelosi or Ocasio- Cortez, I don't think the Republicans have much of a problem saying that's who the Democrats are. I think Democrats in a general election would be wiser to go towards the middle. I'm just not sure their base will allow them to. HARLOW: Thank you both. What did I call you, my mighty duo. I'll

come up with a better one.

ENTEN: Might Duo --

CILLIZZA: We'll take it. That's good for us.

HARLOW: All right. All right. It's a Monday morning. I'm a little tired. Thanks, gents.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Appreciate it.

Two young kids and their great-grandmother are among -- look at these pictures, are among the six people that were killed over the weekend in the largest of the 17 wildfires in northern California. You will hear from their grieving great-grandfather. And we have a live report ahead.


[10:37:04] HARLOW: Six people are now confirmed dead from the biggest of the 17 wildfires cutting a path of destruction across California. The search is continuing this morning for seven others who are missing. Fed by dry weather and triple-digit temperatures weather, the Carr Fire doubles in size over the weekend. It has now burned through 95,000 acres. More than 3,000 firefighters are on the front line. The fire is only 17 percent contained right now. It's threatening thousands of homes and businesses.

Dan Simon joins me live this morning in Redding, California.

And Dan, I know not only are you seeing what the firefighters are doing firsthand, you are speaking to these families who have suffered devastating loss.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Poppy. Yes, I spoke to a 76-year-old man who has lost the most important people in his life. Ed Bledsoe and his wife, Melanie, they were raising their great-grandchildren, 5-year-old James, who they called Junior, and 4- year-old Emily.

Now on Thursday night, Ed left his house just for a short period of time. He wanted to go run some errands in town. And he received a frantic phone call that the flames were encroaching his house. Now inside were his wife and his great-grandchildren. I'll let Ed pick up the story from here.


ED BLEDSOE, LOST WIFE AND GREAT GRANDCHILDREN IN FIRE: I talked to Junior on the phone until he died. He just kept saying, grandpa -- he just kept saying, grandpa, come get me. The fire is coming in the backdoor. Come on, grandpa. I said I'm right down the road. He said, come and get us. Emily said, I love you, grandpa. Grandma says, I love you, Grandpa. And then Junior says, I love you. Come and get us. Come and get us. I said, I'm on my way.

My wife was the greatest woman in the world. And my grandkids was excellent. She wrapped them in wet blankets and put them down at the side of the bed and then pulled a wet blanket over her. And that's where they found them.


SIMON: Well, as you can imagine, Ed is feeling just a tremendous sense of guilt over what happened. But Poppy, I should tell you that he never received any kind of warning that he should evacuate. And that's just goes to show you how fast this fire has consumed the community.

Let me just kind of point out where I am now. We are in the town of Redding. This is the Lake Redding Estates neighborhood. You can see this is one home that has been leveled. But much of the neighborhood looks just like this. And overall, we're talking about 874 structures that have gone up in flames.

We should point out, though, that fire crews are making some progress, containment now is up to 18 percent. That may not sound like a lot, but just 24 hours ago, they were at 5 percent. So hopefully, they'll continue making progress -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Dan Simon, it's heartbreaking. Thank you very much for letting us know what's happening and bringing us the latest.

As we wait for updates let's go to Jonathan Cox. He's a battalion chief with Cal Fire.

First of all, Jonathan, thank you to you and your incredibly team that is battling all of this.


HARLOW: What can you tell us about the progress being made? Because the weather forecast is dim.

[10:40:04] I mean, we heard last hour, rain is not expected until next Tuesday.

COX: Yes. So we're looking at triple-digit temperatures to continue. Luckily they've come down by at least 10 degrees, which is substantial for us. It's really a tale of two fires right now. We have the main body of the fire moving into kind of more remote inaccessible parts of that northern Shasta County. And then on the other side we have the recovering cooling down of the areas where your reporter was of the impacted homes. So it's a multi-pronged fire right now. It's almost 100,000 acres or 98,724 acres.


COX: And our containment has gone up to 20 percent this morning. Sp it's thousands of hours of work goes into every percentage increase. And right now we hope to keep this momentum going of the number going up.

HARLOW: Jonathan, we just heard from the Bledsoe family, you heard that grieving grandfather. He lost his 4- and 5-year-old great- grandchildren and his wife because he just left to go to town for a few minutes and the fire turned and consumed their home. I mean, what are residents supposed to do if they really have no warning about which way the fire is going to turn?

COX: Yes. You know, we're seeing in California right now is more destructive, larger fires, burning at rates that we have historically never seen. And our message is simply, if you feel like you could be in danger to leave the area when these fires are burning.

You know, this fire occurred and it was that weather anomaly that came through on Thursday evening that really just exploded this fire at a rate of spread that we have not seen before. So, you know, the best indicator of whether you should leave is whether that kind of feeling in your stomach or hair on the back of your neck stands up as to possibly being in danger because, you know, sometimes these fires are moving at such speed that they're kind of hop scotching through neighborhoods.

HARLOW: What about the resources that you guys have and what you need right now? I mean, how stretched thin are your teams?

COX: Yes. So we have over 12,000 firefighter now on the line in California. Obviously, bulldozers, crews, hand crews and fire engines are our top priorities for resources. Luckily, we do have 150 additional engines coming from throughout the United States. The furthest being from even Florida. So resources are coming in. We're prioritizing where those resources go based on the risks to lives and property. But, you know, we're early on in the season. This is the beginning of -- you know, the typical fire season in California. So we've got a lot of runway ahead of us.

HARLOW: Jonathan, good luck to you and everyone on the front lines. Thank you for what you do.

COX: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right. Still ahead for us, U.S. diplomats reportedly meeting face to face with the Taliban. This as we learn about a change in strategy from the Trump administration when it comes to troops on the ground in Afghanistan. We will discuss next.


[10:47:32] HARLOW: In a little more than an hour, President Trump will meet at the White House with Italy's new prime minister Giuseppe Conte. He is a leader of a new populist government in Rome. And it could turn out that he might be the president's closest ally in Europe. Remember the G7 summit where the president made waves? Well, after he met Conte there he called him a great guy and said the people of Italy, quote, "got it right."

Joining me now is retired Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby, our military and diplomatic analyst, and formerly the spokesman for the State Department.

Nice to have you.


HARLOW: A few things I want to touch on. But let's start with Italy. And we will see the president take questions at 2:00 p.m. at this joint press conference with Conte. But when you look at Italy and you look at the economic struggles it has had, it's also a very important economy in Europe. It's the third largest economy in the Eurozone and he's right in line with the president on migration, and limiting migration, and also on Russia and forging a new path with Russia.

You know, the fact that these two men are on the same page on these big issues, if you are Germany, France, what are you thinking?

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Well, Poppy, Germany and France, I'm concerned but I'm not overly concerned. I mean, yes, Italy is a powerhouse in the European economy. They host tens of thousands of American troops at various bases throughout the country. Very important NATO partner. But Mr. Conte's political base isn't solidified inside Italy.

Yes, he is a populist prime minister but, you know, there were two populist parties that sort of won the majority of parliamentary seats and had to sort of settle on Conte. So their power structure is still a little bit tepid. And we're going to have to wait to see how much he can solidify some of the reforms that he wants to put in place.

HARLOW: Right.

KIRBY: But he also is fighting the E.U. on things like trade and immigration. And so again if I'm Macron and I'm Merkel I'm watching this carefully, I want to have a dialogue with Conte, but I don't think I'm going to be too overly worried at this point.

HARLOW: You bring up that he was sort of a compromise, if you will. But you look at someone like his deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini who could have arguably more power. Who could have more power in Italy and he wants to convince E.U. partners to lift sanctions on Moscow, readmit Russia, so it would be back to the G8.

KIRBY: Right.

HARLOW: Should we expect similar language that we've heard from him from Conte?

KIRBY: I think so. And I think you hit the nail on the head. I think in some ways he's almost to the right of his boss.


KIRBY: So yes, I do think that you'll hear this refrain from Italy, lifting sanctions like you said, they're going to be tough on trying to lift the Belfast declaration, which of course makes European countries alone responsible for handling asylum seekers in their country.

[10:50:04] They want more -- the E.U. to make more of a load on that. Both Conte and his deputy prime minister are like Trump. Foes of a lot of multilateral trade deals, that could actually make it interesting for Trump as he tries to renegotiate the tariff situation with the E.U. He may not be on the same page with Conte with respect to trade.

HARLOW: Well, we did hear the same thing from the president at the G7 about readmitting Russia to the G8 saying, you know, why not --


HARLOW: Making it the G8 again, why not have them at the table. On Afghanistan, some very important reporting over the weekend from "The Wall Street Journal" and "New York Times." The "Journal" reporting that American diplomats had a few days of meetings face to face with the Taliban, at least representatives.


HARLOW: This happened in Qatar reportedly.

KIRBY: Right.

HARLOW: Try to lay the groundwork for peace talks, trying to capitalize on and build off of three days of cease-fires. A sign this is successful or just the same thing we saw in the Bush and the Obama administrations?

KIRBY: A little bit of both, Poppy. I mean, remember, we tried to do this in 2015. This was -- really this wasn't negotiations. This was simply sitting down with Taliban officials to talk about talks.

HARLOW: Right.

KIRBY: And the Afghan government publicly rebuked it and did not support it. So we had to drop the effort. There was no support from Ghani and the government so we couldn't go forward. Now you see the Afghan government saying, hey, we think this is a good idea. Please keep the talks going. You know, let us know how it goes and we obviously want to be a player going forward.

I think it's a positive sign. But I think really the devil is in the details. And more critically the devil is in what comes next and how --


KIRBY: And to what degree the Afghan government is going to be brought into the process, when you really start getting down to the nitty-gritty of negotiating.

HARLOW: But "Times" reporting, "The New York Times" reporting is that these talks happened without representatives from Afghan's government.

KIRBY: Right. And that is --

HARLOW: Is it a signal -- a shift of strategy, if you will?

KIRBY: I don't think it is, Poppy. No. Again, this is kind of what we played around with in 2015, sitting down with the Taliban without the Afghan government there, just to get a framework going to try to think about what the talks would look like going forward. But we said back then and the Trump administration is saying now, there will be no Afghan reconciliation process that isn't Afghan led and Afghan managed. And I think that's important. So their policy is pretty much the same.

HARLOW: Admiral John Kirby, thank you.

KIRBY: My pleasure.

HARLOW: Ahead for us the board of CBS is meeting today as the company's CEO is accused of sexual misconduct. We have all the details ahead.


[10:56:49] HARLOW: This morning, the board of media giant CBS will meet and consider the fate of CEO Les Moonves after allegations of sexual misconduct by six different women. These allegations come in an explosive report by Ronan Farrow in "The New Yorker."

Our Dylan Byers covers the media, is with me now. Walk me through what these women are saying and frankly what the board of CBS has to weigh in just minutes.

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICAL REPORTER: Sure. Well, the accusations, Poppy, all follow a very similar pattern. They say that Les Moonves invited them to their office at a time when they were young and ambitious and effectively used his power, both his physical power to sort of force himself on them and then used also his power and influence in Hollywood to seek retribution when they rebuffed his advances.

Now as you said, the board of directors will get together on a conference call in just over an hour to come up with a committee to oversee the investigation into these accusations. Now one of the key things they'll be looking for here, of course, do these accusations check out? Are there more accusations that we needed to be aware of? And then are there grounds for firing Leslie Moonves or forcing him to resign from the head of CBS?

Now when it comes to Ronan Farrow, the journalist who of course exposed all of these allegations, there doesn't seem to be any ambiguity for him. I want you to take a listen to what he said this morning on "NEW DAY."


RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORKER: We are talking about encounters in which women alleged they were pinned down and struggled to escape. It's serious stuff. But I also want to point out that in some of these cases, more than the initial incidents, these are women who said what was scarring was the threats of retaliation. That there appeared to be a pattern of saying, you know, this is going to harm your career.


BYERS: Now Moonves has responded to these accusations. I want to read you a portion of what he said. He said, "I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected and abided by the principle that no means no and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone's career." Poppy.

HARLOW: Also, before you go, Dylan, it's a question of the culture and what may have been happening at CBS over a matter of decades. I mean, you have 19 current and former employees also accusing the executive producer of "60 Minutes" Jeff Fager not only enabling and allowing harassment to happen but also making unwanted advances himself. What is he saying about that?

BYERS: That's right. It does go beyond Moonves. It does go to the culture. And let me read you what Jeff Fager is saying. He says, "It is wrong that our culture can be falsely defined by a few people with an ax to grind who are using an important movement as a weapon to get even. There's a reason these awful allegations have not been published before. Despite the efforts of a few former employees who did not succeed at '60 Minutes,' it is because they are false, anonymous and do not hold up to editorial scrutiny."

HARLOW: OK. We'll keep an on eye on it. Dylan, thank you very much for the reporting.

HARLOW: Thank you all for being with me today. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.