tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN February 13, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
need more fundamental relationship on the canada side. this was greeted with huge sighs of relief from the canada officials. >> i appreciate it, thank you so much sir. >> thank you. our live coverage of the international national security adviser michael flynn continues now, i'm don lemon, thank you for joining us. hello, and welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm michael holmes, and it's just 10:00 on monday night. and i'm hannah jones here in london where it's 6 a.m. on tuesday morning. thank you for joining us. well, breaking news from washington, where they have been
reporting the national security adviser michael flynn has resigned. he has been under fire for his contacts with the russian u.s. ambassador before president trump took office. >> a number of sources say flynn inappropriately discussed u.s. sanctions on moscow imposed by the obama administration. and just recently we learned that the justice department had warned him that flynn may be vulnerable to blackmail by russia. >> all right, let's go out to our senior white house correspondent, jim acosta. jim, i suppose his relationship had been tenable, or growing that way. but was it the potential idea of blackmail that was at issue, or was it because he misled mike pence, the vice president? >> i think it was that the administration had warned him a month ago, that was certainly a turning point in all of this.
all of this feeling inside the white house -- it was just unacceptable that the national security adviser, now the former security adviser had misled intentionally or unintentionally, about whether or not he had contacts with the russian ambassador, or discussed the sanctions handed down by the obama administration. originally, michael flynn said he did not have conversations about the sanctions, it turns out later he did have conversations about the sanctions. it turned out earlier, when kellyanne conway said the president had full confidence in michael flynn, and within an hour of that, press secretary sean spicer brought the reporters into the office and said no that was not the case. the president was evaluating the case and michael flynn's future.
and i had heard later on in the evening just a few hours ago that his status was quote, a gray area. michael as you know from observing what happens here in washington for many years once a top official in the administration gets to that point where the president cannot express he has full confidence in that individual it's pretty difficult to walk that back. and for that person to once again have the confidence of the president. and so it did become an untenable situation. now we can tell you that they're already starting to talk about a possible replacement for michael flynn, keith kellogg, the retired general, he had been working in the national security office already so he will be the acting national security office. but david petraeus, a retired general is now a frontrunner for this job. he of course was involved in the obama administration, was a top official in the obama administration but resigned from that position because he had
shared classified secrets with his mistress. and another retired admiral, bob harwood, is apparently also under consideration for the title of national security adviser. and this will get sorted out probably not right away. it will probably take several days. what we're hearing from the trump white house is that the president has already moved on from all of this. and that general flynn did not get fired. he resigned. according to senior administration officials. president trump tried to hang in there as long as he could, we're told, but eventually what you saw happen tonight simply became as you said an untenable situation. >> and jim, i'm wondering you know, how much now is going to focus on who knew what and when did they know it? you know, it was interesting that the president just on friday on air force one said he had not heard the reports about michael flynn, but the justice
department warning according to "the washington post," that was last night. so it starts to make you wonder how could he not have known and who knew about the substance of the conversations and when? >> it's very strange. and you know, i don't know why the president came on air force one and told reporters that on friday that he had not even heard about the story. we were assured by administration officials that the president did know about all of this. meanwhile, all the while, michael, michael flynn was involved with you know, the dealings of the white house in terms of national security business. he traveled down to florida, down to mar-a-lago with president trump when he was having that diplomatic golf outing with the japanese prime minister shinzo abe. he was involved in that conversation that we saw spill out onto the patio of mar-a-lago when they were dealing with the north korea missile launch.
and as a matter of fact today he was involved with the presidential daily intelligence briefing. he was involved in those meetings with the prime minister, justin trudeau from canada who was here today. so he was involved in all of these you know, normal activities, affairs that you would normally associate with the national security adviser up until this afternoon when things started to unravel, when you had the adviser to the president, kellyanne conway, saying he had the full confidence of the president. and after that moment it seemed it all went down hill and you had top administration officials telling us well, maybe he didn't have the full confidence of the president. and by 11:00 p.m. it was all over. >> i have to leave it there. it's going to be a lively press briefing tomorrow and if reporters like yourself are allowed to ask questions it should be pretty interesting.
jim acosta, thank you very much, great reporting. all right, joining me live from seattle, washington, jill, you're obviously in the united states. we have to talk about russia, russia on this subject had always denied that any of these conversations about sanctions between michael flynn and the russian ambassador had taken place. now that he has resigned that calls the kremlin's position somewhat into question. so how embarrassing is it for moscow? >> i think it's embarrassing but i think they will probably trying to finesse that question, what they are saying is there were no discussions between the united states and russia as far as i can see. and so they could say well, no official conversations, maybe a little bit of a chat between the ambassador. the russia ambassador and general flynn. but we'll have to see how they do try to finesse it. but i do believe in general
terms it's bad for them. because their expectations, that they would have some type of a better relationship with donald trump are really kind of collapses before their eyes. and nobody here in the united states, let alone moscow, knows where it is going. and it also continues to raise higher than ever this issue of why the special relationship between donald trump and russia, vladimir putin, what is that relationship? there are a lot of questions. and that will be bad for the relationship between russia and the united states because it will be more acrimony, there will be more congressional involvement in congress as you know, that is unpredictable. so it could be rocky. so i have to say in recent days the russians have been more critical. it's been a little bit more of a sense that they were questioning exactly what he was doing. and i also believe that they
probably are looking at a certain level of incompetence, quite honestly, in this administration, that probably surprises them. i mean, when president putin and donald trump were talking about nuclear weapons, the nuclear arms control agreement new start it was very clear in that conversation according to media reports that donald trump did not quite get it. he didn't understand what that agreement was about. and when president putin said we should extend it because it is going to expire next year. trump said it's a bad deal for the united states, it's a. >> deal for russia. in other words, we got a bad deal. that is not a good way to start off the relationship with a country that thought they were going to have a lot clearer sailing than it did with the obama administration. so this is really bad news and very unpredictable bad news for russia. >> yeah, more bad news as well
as michael and jim were just alluding to, jill. this washington post report that michael flynn may be first base to blackmail by russia, and this has been one of the main reasons why his position became untenable. how is that blackmail allegation going to play out in russia? because it casts more shade, doesn't it, on russia dealings? >> it does, i think one has to ask what could they blackmail him on? they could blackmail him in a sense perhaps of him knowing he was misleading the president. but that doesn't seem very strong. i don't think the russians would particularly want to use it as a b bargaining point, but, could there be something else? we did know that general flynn did speak and was at that russian dinner and has had relationships with the kremlin.
we don't know all the details but there could be more. and so i think these are the things that perhaps in the intelligence service of the united states they had more clarity on that. and they could say that there were some type of compromising data that could be used for blackmailing general flynn. >> jill, just explain for us if you can sanctions. they are always talking about sanctions and the ones in place on russia, particularly, the kremlin wants them removed because they are difficult. >> you know, i don't think that they were really ultimately realistically thinking the sanctions would be able to be lift. they were really inoculating themselves by not really talking about it. at least initially they didn't get into sanctions, at least
that was the report. why? because they know sanctions are often tied with congress and there is a movement even among some republicans like john mccain not to lift those sanctions. so i don't think they were totally counting 100% that it would happen. that is one part of it. but you know another part i think is really important to watch is what happens to the nfc? because after all, the national security council is a crucial body for deciding the security posture, the policy of the united states. and giving information to the president to make his determination, if they get somebody stronger in there because flynn was not reportedly doing a very good job at all in managing it, there could be a quicker movement towards some type of policy on russia. right now nobody knows what the policy is. it's just words saying wouldn't it be nice, mr. trump's words,
wouldn't it be nice if we had a better relationship? or maybe we might be able to do a deal by cooperating on fighting terrorism and then we could have a nuclear deal on the side. all of these ideas, they have really not formulated, to put it mildly. so the russians actually -- i would say the white house now may be able to put together a better, more cohesive policy. but at this point it really is a point of turmoil both for the kremlin and for the white house. >> yes, fascinating to see what happens, as you said, they have not met in person, it will be fascinating to see what happens when that takes place. jill, thank you very much. well, joining me now here in los angeles, political commentator, mo kelly from dallas, texas, and political
commentator, ben ferguson. let's start with you, mo. general flynn may have gone but is it over for him? democrats are going to want to make hay out of this. there are already inquiries to the links. general flynn could end up giving evidence later on. >> this is inevitable, the democrats don't have whatever leverage in congress so they have to use whatever is available to them and so this kind of fell into their lapse. and all of this discussion about russia in our politics, now you have the official color of the boogeyman there, saying well, there is some issue there with general flynn. we know that there will be questions going forward as far as russian involvement in american politics. we had a senior cabinet official
lie to a senior administration official, the president, lie about his relationship with a foreign country. that can't be overstated enough. >> we don't know the exact substance of that. there is likely to be more? i mean, where do you think it goes now and how damaging is it for the white house? >> well, any time you're three weeks into the administration, and the adviser has to resign over it. the politics absolutely looks bad. i don't think the substance will go much further. this was a bad decision by mr. flynn to do this, he obviously should have been more up front and forthcoming to the vice president, he put himself in this situation. there is no one to blame but him. he resigned tonight because i think he probably realized he lost the confidence of the president and definitely the vice president and others around him. the politics are going to be
nasty, democrats are going to seize on this, and they're going to try to make it a bigger deal than what it actually is. i don't think there was actually a type of crime that was committed. so what do you investigate? the guy resigned. >> the democrats are going to want to investigate what the substance of the conversation was, were sanctions discussed? were there other phone calls? did he have a conversation with the russian ambassador about sanctions on his own? did he not run it by anybody, was it just casual conversations or did the president know about it? >> the reason why they're looking at it let's be clear is not because they're going to get rid of flynn. he already resigned. it is the politics of this. they're seizing on a perfect opportunity here, a perfect storm for them to once again go after the trump administration. the damage has already been done. he lied to the vice president of
the united states of america. i also think there was a question where there were a lot of leaks, that donald trump is probably going to make decisions about personnel if they cross any lines. flynn is probably the first of that, there will probably be others. the democrats will play politics with it and investigate because they're going to try to make sure that donald trump's approval rating is going to go down. even though you don't have much more facts than the security adviser lied to the president and it cost him his job. >> do you agree with that, mo? that the damage is done, and there wouldn't be much more than that of the actually relationship between flynn and the ambassador and who knew what and when he knew it. >> that right there, he lied to the vice president, that is significant. but the doj let the trump administration know that the international security adviser was vulnerable to blackmail.
so there are other pieces of information which have not been introduced to the public. but are very necessary to this investigation, this pending investigation. so it's not just michael flynn that he lied. it's also that there are other aspects to this which have yet to be released to the public which are very important to this discussion and obviously that goes back to russia as far as how many of our senior cabinet officials including the president quite possibly, or have these ties to russia that are not being revealed yet need to be discussed and obviously would shed a different light on how we may proceed this administration. >> look, i totally understand the play here, and you just saw that. democrats see blood in the water, and they're going to try to catch something, a big fish off of it. i just don't think based on the resignation letter, based on how long flynn even had the confidence of the president
until this afternoon, i think this is the story. he has now resigned. he made a mistake, and it was a mistake that cost him his job. and this will be his legacy now, but if democrats over-play this it may actually backfire on them if you try to make it into a bigger scandal than it actually is. >> it has to be a valid question on who knew what, i was talking to jim acosta earlier about this, ben, and it was friday on air force one that the president was asked about it and he said i have not heard these reports. now, if the doj told the president about these reports last month how could he not have known? >> well, i think the doj telling the president that hey, fyi, these conversations happened, they may have just given him a general scope, for him to say he was not briefed on it, or has
the full scope on it, is actually possible. we also don't know what the definition of blackmail is, that he denied to the president, i am sure where that question will be chb . i am sure the democrats will look into this and see if there is anything that they can sink their teeth into. i think the way flynn resigned, it's more of a distraction than anything else. and he understood how big a distraction it was, and that is why he resigned. if they find something else about it, they will be thrilled. i just don't see it. >> the other thing is, you have to wonder how a man with his experience in the intelligence community, i don't know, didn't assume that conversations with the russian ambassador were not going to be monitored. >> yeah, i don't understand that either. i mean, any type of conversation with a foreign official yes, it's going to be recorded. yes, there will be transcripts and that goes back to judgment.
if his judgment was so lacking in that moment how might that judgment impact his decisions versus north korea, versus isis, versus anything which is going on in the middle east. so i think this administration does have an identity problem as far as how -- having a way of assuaging people's fears and giving a sense of calm. all we've seen is chaos instead of calm. and if this is a harbinger of what it will be for this administration in the future well, it will be tough sledding. >> thank you so much, gentlemen, good to see you. >> thank you. all right, a busy night or morning depending on where you are watching but you are watching cnn's live breaking news coverage, national security adviser michael flynn has resigned. we'll see how russia is reacting in a live report from moscow coming up next.
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welcome back, recapping our top story, michael flynn has resigned as the national security adviser. >> coming after reports the justice department warned he could be vulnerable to blackmail over communications he had with the russian ambassador, now reports show he discussed sanctions with the ambassador after the president interfered with the election. and while barack obama was still in office. we want to read just a little
bit of that resignation letter, in it flynn said quote, unfortunately because of the fast pace of events i inadvertently briefed the vice president and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the russian ambassador, he went on i had sincerely apologized to the president and vice president and they have accepted my apology. >> well, joining me now from moscow, cnn correspondent matthew chance, great to have you on the program. perhaps just a bit too early perhaps for a full response from the kremlin. but how big a loss is michael flynn to russia? >> reporter: well, certainly he had a relationship with russia. he notoriously attended a endanger badinner back in 2015, which was a paid dinner, and he sat next to
vladimir putin. that drew criticism about his judgment. of course there are more questions about his judgment now leading to this resignation. but there has been a bit of reaction so far not from the kremlin, you're right, it's too early for them yet. but a senior russian official, alexei pushkov, has indicated it's not with flynn, but that indicates there are scandals taking place at the moment which is the relationship that trump has tried to forge with russia, the bettering of that relationship has become a political liability for him. and his critics both in the democratic party and the republicans have made it quite clear that they're going to use that sympathy that he has and the sympathies that those around him have to try to undermine his credibility and undermine the credibility of the trump administration. and that is a deep concern to
russia, not simply because not that michael flynn is not in the picture but because it could lead to some unpredictable consequences on the part of the trump administration, when it comes to russia. for instance, in order to placate congress and the survival of those around him, trump could opportunitisticly do a u-turn and become much more anti-russian in his policy than he indicated he would in his campaign and has done up until now. and so that is something that is really bothering those in the upper echelon of power in the russian administration. >> and it calls into question what putin has on president trump. >> it -- you could interpret it that way. another interpretation is that
these constant denials that have come from the kremlin about any conversations about sanctions having been entered into, this is something that has left the kremlin with egg on its face as it were, in the sense that it has been repeatedly asked over the past couple of days just yesterday, in fact, about whether sanctions were discussed when it came to this conversation between michael flynn and its ambassador to the united states. sergey kisylak, so was it done to generate good will with the trump white house, to sort of tow the white house line on their denial that sanctions were discussed. it's unclear at the moment. but certainly, the kremlin has been left as i say with egg on its face, and slightly
embarrassed by the fact that they have been denying that this conversation took place about sanctions, but now apparently that is untrue and it's led to the resignation of michael flynn. >> yeah, perhaps a certain amount of egg on the trump administration as well, and for all of how this played out, throughout the morning. matthew, thank you. and it is 10:30 p.m., on the west coast, much more ahead on the resignation of the national security adviser michael flynn. what it could mean for the trump administration and the u.s. military, next.
contacts with the russian ambassador to the united states, the source tells cnn the justice department warned the white house last month that flynn had misled trump administration officials about the substance of those communications and was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by russia. >> cnn military analyst, retired colonel francone, this position held by michael flynn is surely one of the most important positions made by the president. >> well, that was the controversy around him, remember, he was basically fired by the obama administration as the director of the intelligence agency so there were a lot of questions whether he could actually step into that role. but he was very admired by mr. trump and he selected him. and i think now that the administration may be looking at that as maybe not the best
personnel decision. >> and of course he always had contacts with russia before, even being paid to speak at an event sitting next to vladimir putin at a dinner. you know, when you look at that and you look at the fact that he had this conversation, allegedly, with the russian ambassador, given his background in intelligence would you not have expected he would think that that might be recorded? >> it is inconceivable that he would not know that. as the director of the intelligence agency, of course he would know about these conversations. i was not pleased to see these conversations come out about what we do to intercept those communications so he had to know that. the fact he was going to be the
adviser, for him to contact the russian ambassador doesn't surprise me at all. if he just mentioned, of course you know mr. ambassador we'll have to talk about the sanctions after. so we don't know exactly what was said. i think the biggest information here was the mischaracterization of what happened to the president, and once you lose the correct inside the west wing, you're done. >> i suppose when it comes to the content of the conversation, what has everybody's attention is the fact that it came after president obama expelled a but of russian diplomats, and the russians uncharacteristically did nothing around the time of the phone call, and that is what piqued everybody's interest. i wonder when you look at it do you feel that the conversation about sanctions with the russian ambassador was something that
somebody like michael flynn would have just done on his own and not mention it to anyone, not run it by anyone in the administration? it's a pretty important sort of conversation to have, you would imagine. >> yeah, that is a really important distinction we don't know the answer to. i don't know if this was sanctioned by the president or somebody else in the white house but for michael flynn to have that conversation you would think he was acting in what he thought was his job, or he was directed to go out and make contacts with the russians. remember, this action on the part of the previous administration, the obama administration, expelling the russian diplomats, which many of us thought was an overreaction to what happened, and trump was automatically faced with the dilemma with the russians he may have sent mr. flynn to talk to the russians and say calm this down until we get in office and we can figure out how to fix
this. we don't know what happened, but when the transcripts come out, we'll know a lot more about those talks. >> rick francona, we'll get you back next hour to talk about this. thank you so much, retired colonel, rick francona. well, president trump is under some scrutiny for how he handled the tests. why he has been criticized for his response to north korea's missile launch. coming up right after this break. of beers. ♪ if you've got the time welcome to the high life. ♪ we've got the beer ♪ miller beer with the deduction findingombine superpower of ibm watson? ah! you get more money. that's what you could get. h&r block with watson. get your taxes won.
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you're watching breaking news live here on cnn. we're less than a month into donald trump's presidency and already a member of the white house's inner circle has just resigned. national security adviser michael flynn stepped down late on monday. >> now, he has been under fire for allegedly discussing u.s. sanctions with russia before president trump took office. the u.s. justice department warned the white house about the situation and flynn's vulnerability to blackmail by russia. >> now, president trump is also being criticized for how he handled his first major foreign
policy crisis, that was of course north korea's missile launch. mr. trump was in florida with the japanese prime minister shinzo abe when he received the news. and these photos show aides using cell phone flashlights to read through documents. well, they were surrounded in that table by members and guests of mr. trump's resort. the white house said the leaders did not discuss classified information at their dinner table. let's get much more on this, matt rivers joins us live from seoul in south korea, now, domestic matters aside we need to talk about how president trump responded to this news of the north korea missile launch, and the mar-a-lago matters as well. how did south korea, seoul, respond to this? >> reporter: well, we haven't seen any official response from the government here in south korea other than to say they're ready and willing to work with their american counterparts at the u.n. to make sure that
punitive actions are levied against north korea for their provocations. and say what you will, people have criticized him for not coming out after the japanese prime minister said something in a statement, he had a very short statement saying he supported the japanese and in a press conference with justin trudeau, he brought up north korea only saying he would deal with them very strongly. and some in the international community said there should be a stronger response from the president and he should be out there really laying out his administration's agenda for dealing with the north korean crisis. but on the flip side of that, argue others would argue he is still just getting into his presidency. and don't forget, there were some other ballistic missile tests in 2014, from january to october, and every time you saw a missile launched in the obama
administration, you didn't see the president come out to the east wing and deliver a statement every time. so what critics would say is look, the trump administration is responding in an appropriate way given what north korea did. obviously you have two competing sides, some saying he did not react enough, some say he did enough. >> great to get your reaction from south korea and what is happening north of the peninsula and the responses from the u.s. as well, matt rivers, thank you. do stay with us, still to come here on the program, crews in northern california scrambling to prevent water from spilling uncontrollably at the nation's tallest dam. thousands have been forced to evacuate. we'll have the latest when we come back. tomorrow's the day we'll play something besides video games. every day is a gift. especially for people with heart failure. but today there's entresto... a breakthrough medicine that can help make more tomorrows possible. tomorrow, i want to see teddy bait his first hook.
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abdominayou may have ibs. ask your doctor if non-prescription ibgard is right for you. ibgard calms the angry gut. available at cvs, walgreens and riteaid. welcome back, everyone. the u.s. department of defense says it is ready to assist in operations of california's oroville dam after damage to the dam's spillways forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate as a precaution. engineers cautiously optimistic they can contain the potential flooding. but more rain is on the way. cnn's ryan young with the
latest. >> reporter: michael, we watched all days long, as the crews continue to take rocks to the area where the spillway was damaged. the last two days hasn't seen any significant rains. and officials believe that's a good sign. dramatic instagram video shows the water rushing from the spillway in oroville, california, the tallest dam in the united states. the water taking whatever stands in its way, is an emergency that led to frustration and confusion, as 188,000 residents were ordered to evacuate three counties near the dam. many stuck for hours in massive traffic jams as they left. >> we loaded up the kids and took off. >> my daughter called me and told me we had to get out.
i have a handicapped daughter that won't come in and take her. please help. >> reporter: residents flying to high ground. at the dam, the spillway has a gaping hole nearly the size of a football field. the only remaining protection, an eroding spillway that according to the california department of water resources hasn't been used in the 48 years since the dam was put in service. emergency crews are putting large rocks in place to shore up the area, measures they hope will prevent a catastrophe. >> if we don't take care of that and mitigate it properly, we're looking at a 30-foot wall of water. >> in 2005, environmental groups claim the dam's auxiliary
spillway would be the backup justice. 100,000 feet per second is being released. officials will see when they can give the all-clear for residents to come back in. michael? >> thanks. eric curry is a reporter for the "san jose mercury news." joins us now. eric, thanks for doing so. we saw heavy machinery in that piece. what is being done to alleviate the situation? what is the risk of the worst-case scenario that exists? >> the problem is that the water coming over the concrete berm on the emergency spillway was eating at what is a dirt hillside. the danger is that the dirt can erode to where the berm itself can fail, which would send a lot of water going downstream. they're trying to shore it up. that's what you're seeing with all of the trucks and helicopters dropping the big rocks.
it's kind of the, you know, plug up the hole theory with something harder than dirt. that's what they can do for the time being. >> we heard there's concern over the spillway. what are the questions about how it happened? >> it was brought up years ago. this is a dirt spillway. someone said in 2005, that it's third-world design. that basically, you know, it's very primitive. it's not a controlled overflow device. it's just a low point in the dam in a the water will come over and eat away at the hillside. years ago, they wanted to reinforce that to make it more resistant. armor it. but officials didn't like the
idea. it's an expensive proposition. tens of millions of dollars. >> we reported a lot over the last few years on california's drought. this is the opposite of that. and there's more rain coming in. what's the concern about that? >> it is a concern. they're draining the lake of a rate of about eight feet a day. they wanted to get it town to 50 feet. that's not going to happen. but for the next storms come in about midnight wednesday. if the storms aren't particularly strong, they'll be able to drain it faster than the waters coming in. that's dependent on the main spillway, which is damaged. if they cut the flow coming out of the spillway, the waters could rise again. that's the fear. >> still a concern. eric curry, appreciate your time. thanks so much. >> thanks for having me.
that's a pleasure. you're watching cnn newsroom live from los angeles. i'm michael holmes. >> i'm hannah von jones in london. we'll be right back. the resignation of national security adviser, general michael flynn. say hi to xiidra, lifitegrast ophthalmic solution. the first eye drop approved for the signs and symptoms of dry eye. one drop in each eye, twice a day. common side effects include eye irritation, discomfort or blurred vision when applied to the eye, and an unusual taste sensation. do not touch the container tip to your eye or any surface. remove contacts before using xiidra and wait for at least 15 minutes before reinserting them.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> hello. thanks so much for joining us on cnn newsroom. i'm hannah vaughn jones coming to you live from landon. >> and i'm michael holmes. the breaking news this hour. an embarrassing shakeup at the white house, less than a month into donald trump's presidency. michael flynn has resigned. flynn, under fire for his contacts with russia's u.s. ambassador before president trump took office. a number of sources said flynn inappropriatelyties