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Trump Scraps Coal Regulations; Trump Neglects to Blame Russia; Manafort Trial Deliberations; Melania Trump's Anti-Bullying Agenda; Father and Son Escape Wildfire. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 21, 2018 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00] GINA MCCARTHY, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Providing the international leadership that the U.S. is known for. So our lives may not change immediately, but climate change is changing all of our lives. It's impacting us today. And the longer we wait to address it, the more we are violating our moral responsibility to our kids and the more we are putting our immediate health at risk, because this didn't just roll back carbon pollution, it opened a huge loophole to invest in dirty energy that would increase traditional pollutants.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

MCCARTHY: So we're talking not just about climate, but about our direct public health.

CAMEROTA: Well, a couple things. One of the things they say is that they're going to give states more control to regulate what happens on their own lands. Isn't it possible that some states will choose to keep regulations in place?

MCCARTHY: Well, by the own admission of the EPA, their own analysis says that they're going to end up with just getting maybe a little under 1 percent or a little over 1 percent reduction in carbon pollution out to 2030. The Obama administration was looking at a 30 percent reduction.

And the good news about this proposal is it doesn't deny climate change. It doesn't deny EPA's responsibility legally to address it. It just doesn't even talk about climate until somewhere after page 300. And it doesn't do anything to reduce carbon emissions.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Well, I do want to ask you, legally, because you think that legally their proposal may not be on solid ground. It may not happen.

MCCARTHY: Yes. Yes, because legally the federal government is required to set a target for overall reductions and then defer to the states in how to get there. This proposal does not meet that responsibility. It doesn't set a federal trajectory. It simply says states, you go ahead and do something and you're going to be limited only to the most expensive reduction opportunities that run contrary to the way that the energy system works and the very kinds of transitions to clean energy that are making energy more reliable, safer, cleaner and cheaper for consumers.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

MCCARTHY: What state governor is going to want to do this in a rigorous way if the federal government is setting the tone that we don't need to reduce anything, just do whatever you want. It's likely that governors in a coal state will feel compelled to have their consumers spend money to upgrade coal facilities that otherwise would not be competitive at all. And it means higher costs to consumers, as well as higher pollution for all of us. It just legally doesn't meet the test.

CAMEROTA: Well, just -- I mean -- just to comment on the criticism.

MCCARTHY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: As you know, many conservatives and critics of President Obama felt that you all were trying to kill the coal industry. And what the administration says they're trying to do is extend the longevity and that they think they can do it in a cleaner, cheaper way.

MCCARTHY: Well, I think -- I'd love to have a wonderful conversation -- as we had -- about how you deal with the fact that coal is becoming very ancillary and outdated right now. What do we do for those communities to have them deal with this transition?

The thing you don't do is give them false promises that you're trying to develop rules that won't stand the test of time, that will provide them relief that they want instead of the kind of support they need to deal with the transition ahead.

CAMEROTA: OK.

MCCARTHY: So I'm -- we never were in a war on coal. We were regulating pollution. We were addressing the challenge of climate change. We were doing it reasonably and cost effectively. But we weren't actually promising our base things that could never happen.

CAMEROTA: OK.

MCCARTHY: Things that the rest of the international world understands well.

CAMEROTA: Gina McCarthy, we appreciate your expertise on this and getting your perspective. Thanks for being on NEW DAY.

MCCARTHY: Thank you, Alisyn, it's great to be here.

CAMEROTA: John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a new attack uncovered overnight by the Russians on the U.S. election system. Were they trying to get into the 2018 midterms?

That plus the Paul Manafort trial. What's going on in the jury room? We'll get "The Bottom Line," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:38:18] CAMEROTA: All right, so despite his national security leaders continuing to sound the alarm on Russia, President Trump refuses to squarely blame the Kremlin for the attacks on the 2016 election. If that sounds like deja vu, yes, it is happening again. But here's what's new. Microsoft says it has uncovered more Russian attacks ahead of the midterm elections.

BERMAN: New ones?

CAMEROTA: Now ones. Yes.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's political director David Chalian.

So, David, as you know, since we've had this conversation a thousand times, the president's rhetoric doesn't always match his actions. His administration has taken action against Russia. They did expel diplomats. They have sanctioned Russia. But it doesn't seem to be working since Microsoft has uncovered the -- some of the same actors, the same Kremlin-linked bad actors now responsible for setting up these bogus websites and again trying to now influence the midterm elections.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. I mean what we're covering here this morning, Alisyn, is an attack on American democracy from the Russians. That -- that is what has happened. That is what Microsoft uncovered, an attack on American democracy, and we have heard nothing from the president of the United States about this, except -- except in a Reuters interview yesterday when referring back to the 2016 attacks on American democracy he decided to put doubt back into his language and say, if it's Russia. He won't commit that it that it is, despite the unanimous or unanimous minus one, I guess, assessment that, of course, Russia did attack the American electoral system and process in 2016.

So I understand that the White -- you are right, they have taken some actions. There have been sanctions. We saw a show of force in the briefing room of all the top officials. Where is the president of the United States on this other than not wanting to touch it because he's afraid it somehow discredits him?

[08:40:16] BERMAN: We know that he met behind closed doors with Vladimir Putin and they talked for a long time. So one could surmise -- I guess we don't know for sure -- but one could surmise that either he did not threaten or warn Vladimir Putin in some kind of convincing way not to do this, or, B, Vladimir Putin just doesn't fear the consequences of what the action of attacking the U.S. election system again might be. He's not acting scared.

CHALIAN: Well, that's true and there's so much about that meeting that we don't know what actually was said and took place still, John. But Donald Trump, of course, wouldn't be the first president that Vladimir Putin was not afraid of on this front. Barack Obama had said to knock it off and he didn't do that at all and here they are still continuing it. So Putin seems determined.

The difference here is the silence from the president and the insistence that it is not a certain thing that Russia is actually doing this or has done this, defying all the evidence before us.

But you're right, what is clear, no matter what was said in that room, is that Putin and Russia are still determined to meddle in our Democratic processes in a way that I think demands the president's personal attention and words on.

CAMEROTA: All right, let's talk about Paul Manafort. The trial is entering its fourth day, or the deliberations, I should say, are entering their fourth day. The jury has been deliberating for 23 hours. So, David, not an open-and-shut case.

CHALIAN: Right. Clearly not. You know, we have heard so much talk from all the legal analysts on our air, this is a paper case, and it is, you know, overwhelming evidence. But you put a case in the hands of a jury and it doesn't always necessarily go according to plan. And, obviously, deliberations continue. We will see if indeed they're able to reach a verdict today.

What is clear is that as each day is going, you can sense -- and we know from Jeff Zeleny's reporting and others, the president is supremely focused on -- on this trial, wanting updates from his team. And you can sense, if you look at the Reuters review (ph), look at the way Jeff Mason was talking to you guys about the president's mood, he's -- he is a bit unnerved at the moment. And waiting for what is going to happen in this Manafort trial is part of that. It is Bob Mueller's first big test and Donald Trump is clearly hoping -- listen to his words last Friday -- that Manafort, who he calls a really good man, is not convicted here. And you know if that's the case, that he will make that sort of credential in his fight against Bob Mueller.

BERMAN: I think we have underappreciated, all of us, what a big deal the verdict in this trial will be, one way or the other. If he's acquitted, I just think we completely have not fully begun to understand what the president will do with it. Maybe he'll issue a pardon before the next trial. We don't know. And if he is found guilty, again, to that mind-set, it's already clearly rattled a little bit. So who knows what happens next.

CHALIAN: That's a really good point, John. I -- we are in such a precarious moment in time in this presidency right now. The Manafort trial, the figuring out the final determination about whether to sit down with Mueller, whether or not Mueller's going to issue a report before we get to deep into the fall and into the election season. This is a moment of time where the president is clearly feeling the heat. Just watch what he's doing every day.

CAMEROTA: OK. We will and you will, David Chalian. Thank you very much for "The Bottom Line."

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: All right, the exercise, the grand exercise in incongruity. Melania Trump's anti-bullying message. President Trump's bullying message on Twitter. The stark contrast, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:47:54] BERMAN: First Lady Melania Trump speaking out about the harmful and destructive uses of social media as part of her Be Best campaign. But just as she was delivering that message, President Trump was on Twitter railing against former CIA Director John Brennan.

CNN's Kate Bennett is live in Washington with us.

And, Kate, this has moved beyond ironic to the purely surreal.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I mean, that's true. And as with most things Melania Trump, it's sort of is she or isn't she. Certainly cyber bullying is important to her. It's part of her Be Best cause. It's something she said she was going to tackle. But when she says stuff like this, it's hard to know whether she's discussing the president in some oblique way or whether she's actually discussing her cause.

Let's take a listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: Let's face it, most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults. But we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BENNETT: Her spokeswoman said not -- we should not dissect these statements from the first lady. But clearly, at the same time she's talking, her husband is tweeting and it because this mashup. And if she's only going to speak for a few minutes and not sort of deliver a speech with a bit more context, we can't help but be drawn to these tweets that her husband -- you know, where he's name calling and stuff. So it's sort of this back and forth with the first lady's Be Best campaign as she launched it. It's hard to keep the president's rhetoric out of our heads as she moves forward discussing the very important issue that she's really taken a liking to and trying to stop.

BERMAN: Everyone agrees it's a super important issue here, Kate, and I know you're pressing for all the right questions. Did the first lady or her team, though, acknowledge this bizarre dichotomy, or maybe intentional dichotomy?

BENNETT: You know, they don't. The first lady acknowledged it in March -- back in March when she said, I know I'm going to face criticism for tackling this topic. I'll going to do it anyway. Her office reiterated that to me yesterday as I pressed about the irony or the alleged hypocrisy about this.

[08:50:02] Certainly she's going to move forward with it. She's aware of it. She hears the sort of cacophony in the background of critics questioning her topics. But this is something she's going to move forward with. She hasn't addressed the president and his tweets specifically. She has in the past on the campaign. She said, listen, I tell him all the time, he doesn't listen to he, he's an adult, and he's going to do what he's going to do as she moves forward. And she's headed to Africa in October. Again, another part of the world that the president has criticized in the past.

BERMAN: Exactly. People wondering if that is its own form of trolling.

Kate Bennett, great to have you with us. Appreciate it.

BENNETT: Thanks.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, John, we have got to get to this very dramatic and harrowing video. This is a father and son. They were trapped by flames in a wildfire. You can see, they reach a dead end here. How do they get out? They join us next to explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: OK, now to this terrifying home video of the moment a father and son realized they were trapped in a raging wildfire in Montana. Watch their desperate attempts to get out alive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES BILTON, ESCAPED MONTANA WILDFIRE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I think we go fast and --

JUSTIN BILTON, ESCAPED MONTANA WILDFIRE: Do I go?

C. BILTON: We're going to find out up there in a minute, aren't we? I think we can drive through this.

[08:55:04] J. BILTON: What?

C. BILTON: Holy bacon (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

J. BILTON: Dad, what if the car blows up?

C. BILTON: Oh, wow. Then we're dead. Just keep driving. Not too, too fast but we'll be OK.

J. BILTON: Dad, this is insane.

C. BILTON: I know. We don't want to get trapped in here. Easy, easy, all right, we're good, we're good, we're good, slow down, slow, there's a big rut here. Just slow down. We're out of that fire.

J. BILTON: We're not out yet, dad, oh, my God.

C. BILTON: Yes, we're good. Slow down. Slow down.

J. BILTON: Dad, no. C. BILTON: Yes, we're out.

J. BILTON: We're not out.

C. BILTON: We're good, though.

J. BILTON: What?

C. BILTON: Easy, easy, easy.

J. BILTON: Oh, my God.

C. BILTON: Keep going. Go, go, go. Easy, easy. Easy. Easy, can't see, just go easy now. Easy.

J. BILTON: Dad, the car is heating up, it's going to explode!

C. BILTON: We're all right.

J. BILTON: Oh, Jesus, God, help us.

C. BILTON: We're all right. Slow it down. OK, slow it down so we can see, Jess (ph).

J. BILTON: Dad, what if a tree falls on us?

C. BILTON: We're OK. Slow down.

J. BILTON: Please, Got, help us. Please, God, help us.

C. BILTON: You're doing good. You're doing good.

J. BILTON: Oh, my God.

C. BILTON: Oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

J. BILTON: Dad, we can't get out.

C. BILTON: I'm getting out. You can't drive backward. I can -- we get that out of the road, we get gloves.

J. BILTON: Oh, God.

C. BILTON: Stop. Stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

Joining us now are Justin and Charles Bilton, who got out of the fire.

Charles, that's a real cliffhanger where the video lets off.

CHARLES BILTON, ESCAPED MONTANA WILDFIRE: Oh, I know.

CAMEROTA: How did you guys get out of that? BILTON: He did an amazing job of backing up the car. I mean I was

shocked how fast he backed that up and how steady. We were on an eight foot wide dirt roads with a lot of ruts and he -- and it was -- it was hard to see because of the flames and because of the intensity. And he did an amazing job. And he backed it up. We were able to turn it around and he drove out of it.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh.

Justin, we can hear you saying, dad, this is insane. Dad, the car is going to explode. What -- did you think, Justin, that you were going to make it out alive?

JUSTIN BILTON, ESCAPED MONTANA WILDFIRE: When we first started the ride, I was pretty confident that the fire was still up on the mountain, but as we started to drive further, it became apparent that it was really close. And, you know, at some points the car was almost ablaze and we could definitely feel the heat. And once we saw that downed tree, I really didn't think we were going to be able to get out of there alive.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

Charles, you're cool as a cumber in this whole -- you're just -- you have a calm voice. You're telling your husband -- I mean, sorry, you're telling your son, take it slow, take it slow, slow down. How could you be so composed?

C. BILTON: You know, you don't know how you're going to react in those kinds of situations. And I just stayed calm. You know, I don't know if it was because I coached baseball for years, if in situations in a game, you know, you try to stay calm. So I just have no idea. I just thought we would be OK. I believed we'd be OK. So I just stayed relaxed.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. I'm going to start coaching baseball. That is the secret.

Justin, how did you have the presence of mind to record all of this?

J. BILTON: I have no idea, actually. I think I completely forgot that I was recording it. We started out and we expected that the fire was still up on the ridge fairly far away from us. And then once we came around a few bends and saw that both sides of the road were completely engulfed, I was just so focused on driving that I pretty much completely forgot I was even holding the camera. And then I dropped it when we put the car into reverse to get back out and then only when we got all the way back to a point where we were relatively safe for the moment did I even realized that it had been recording the whole time.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

So, Charles, how did you ultimately get rescued? I mean I know you backed out away from all of these flames that we're seeing, but you still had to back through them. And then at some point did you abandon the car? C. BILTON: Yes. What happened was, we got back to the trail head. So

this is a dead end road. There was nowhere to go. We only had the road to go two and a half miles to get out. So just by chance there was two employees from the park had a little motor boat and they were down there observing the fire and we kept yelling and waving and they just waved back at us like we were saying hi and we're going, no, come here, come here, we need -- we need help because our campsite was two and a half miles in. So we would have had to hike two and a half miles in -- back to our campsite and then go out the other end, which is another four and a half miles. And now it was getting dark.

[09:00:04] CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

C. BILTON: So they came, they picked us up, they drove us back to the campsite.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

C. BILTON: We packed up and they took us to the other end of the lake.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

C. BILTON: And -- they saved our lives.

CAMEROTA: Well, you have