tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN November 19, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PST
face-to-face interview with the special counsel, which the president promised a number of times over the last couple years now seems more remote than ever. >> is that your final position, that there's going to be no sit-down interview and nothing written or in person on obstruction? >> i would say probably. probably. i mean, i can change my mind, but probably. >> no interview. >> i think we wasted enough time on this witch hunt. and the answer is probably. we're finished. >> in that fox news interview, the president also said he won't interfere if his newly appointed acting attorney general decides to get involved more so with the mueller probe. let's go to the white house. kaitlan collins joins us there. good morning. what is the status update? it seems like at any moment these written answers could get to mueller's team. >> it does. they haven't submitted them yet according to what kellyanne conway told reporters on the
north lawn earlier this morning. she said she's not aware they have sent those answers in yet. the president was clear yesterday, he's dictated those answers to his lawyers so the answers he says are his own. but the larger question here has been about whether or not the mueller investigation is going to be able to go forward. and the president was asked about matt whitaker, the acting attorney general's criticism of the probe, which he said he wasn't aware of before he selected him to run the justice department, even temporarily, even though sources said that's actually what caused the president to notice matt whitaker in the first place. jim and poppy, in this interview, the president was asked point blank, yes or no, are you okay with matt whitaker limiting the scope of this investigation? and here's what his answer was. >> if whitaker decides in any way to limit or curtail the mueller investigation, are you okay with that? >> look, it's going to be up to him. i think he's very well aware politically. i think he's astute politically. he's a very smart person.
a very respected person. he's going to do what's right. i really believe he's going to do what's right. >> you won't overrule him if he decides to curtail. >> i would not get involved. >> so the president doesn't say a yes or no answer there, but the bottom line is he said he will not overrule matt whitaker if he doesn't -- if he does try to limit the scope of this investigation. and also in that interview, the president said he believes matt whitaker is right in his criticisms of the special counsel. >> interesting there. he quoted him being astute politically. is that the judgment for an attorney general? that's a question. joining us now, cnn political commentators doug hye and robby mook. doug, if i can begin with you. it strikes me, the president multiple times over the last couple years said listen, i'll sit down with the special counsel if need be. now, he has a new attorney general who the president might expect will not approve a subpoena to the president from
the special counsel if the special counsel were to choose that. and now he's saying there's no way i'm going to sit down with the special counsel. i wonder, are we seeing in that answer there already an effect of having his guy in effect leading the justice department? the president feels insulated from being required to sit down with the special counsel? >> yeah, i don't think we know at this point yet. this is something that's going to play itself out over the next coming days and weeks. but i hope the president sticks to his word that he will do what's necessary. i think politically, the spart thing to do for the president, not for an acting attorney general, the smart thing for the president to do is to not sit down. that would open a can of worms for the president that could be disastrous. he's submitting the written questions. i think that's good and proper. if i was advising this white house, i would tell him, say you want to be as open as possible, but definitely do not sit down and testify. >> let me ask, the president said of the nation's premier law
enforcement official who leads the department of justice, who he appointed, that he's very astute politically. in effect saying he'll make a political judgment as to whether and how to proceed with the special counsel's investigation. is that the way you, is that the way republicans want an attorney general to be operating, making decisions on a political basis? >> unfortunately, i think it depends on what republican you ask about which administration. >> i'm asking you. >> if eric holder said that, it would be a different answer. i'm troubled by the answer. i think jeff sessions made what was probably a political decision and also the right decision to recuse himself. what we know, obviously, is there's a new sheriff who is coming to town come january 3rd. and that affects things. if there's not going to be a subpoena coming from the investigation, we know that the new house of representatives is going to be pretty eager to do so. >> i don't know. i mean, 77% of democratic voters in the midterms said that they were sort of pro-impeachment,
but robby, nancy pelosi has been very careful in terms of how she's talked about this being a priority for democrats. >> yeah. and i think she's doing the right thing. first of all, we have to let mueller get through the investigation. that's going to be the most credible thing. and for democrats to just go stumbling in and try to impeach the president outright, it's going to look cravenly political. i think there's a lot that needs to get investigated, and democrats should start one step at a time, piecing -- pulling all the different threads here, but just to rush on day one and try to impeach the president i think would be a big mistake. we saw the republicans go head over heels in the '90s to do this. there were pretty bad implications in the election. again, i of all people care a lot about this. i know that bad things happen. i want the president to be held accountable, but let's take it one step at a time. >> it's not a choice between just impeachment and killing the mueller investigation, right? democrats and republicans, frankly, can operate responsibly by protecting the investigation
short of either option there. those aren't the only choices. >> that's exactly right. again, step one. let mueller do his job. step two, there's a lot of really legitimate questions about how the president has been profiting from the presidency. there's a lot of questions about his business dealings today. there's been a lot of discussion about the saudis. i have big questions about whether the president is denying what happened with this killing because he has business with the saudis. there's lots for us to look at. let's let mueller focus on the russia piece, bring those revelations forward and make a decision from for. >>athizeler part of the interview with chris wallace isn't getting as much attention but i thought was telling. the president suggested had whitaker been supportive of the mueller probe, he wouldn't have hired him, after saying i don't know him that well. let me read you the quote. so if he, whitaker, said there's collusion, i'm supposed to take somebody who says there is? the president went on to say, because then i wouldn't take him. for two reasons, but the number one reason is the fact he would have been wrong.
how do you read that, doug? >> i read that as the president is making a political decision. and that shouldn't be a surprise that this president or other presidents. what the challenge is i think for this administration then is these things then get defined forward. as we look at all things whitaker, the president's words then are going to be read by republicans and democrats as possibly be favorable to one side or another or prebaking a decision before anything has been determined. >> it's a fair point. robby, i will ask you this, though. you know, there is an exhaustion factor here with the mueller investigation. from both sides, frankly. right? i'm not -- i'm saying some republicans think it's gone too long, but some democrats think where is this going? does that pose a danger for democrats? i'm not talking about impeachment. i'm just talking about, you know, is there demand even from folks you talk to on the democratic side to say, listen, what's going to be the final result of this whole thing? what are we really going to find out? >> yeah, and what's a little
concerning to me is i think mueller still has a long way to go. i think some people are creating expectations that aren't fair. i wouldn't be surprised if mueller goes into the summer. keep in mind, as every step we have gone on this, we're getting closer and closer to the president, i think roger stone and his associate are the next to go. then the question is who was talking to the president? that could take a really long time. i do worry about that just in terms of expectations. we need to let it go on. >> can i ask you before we go to break, does the president mean it when he says nancy pelosi should be house speaker? i was trying to decode that tweet over the weekend? >> the president is brilliant at throwing a lot of chum out there and a lot of distraction. i think that's a string he wanted us all to pull and musz on. i think the president just wants chaos and he wants the democrats fighting with each other. he saw that as a gift, you know, to mix it up with people who may not want pelosi to be speaker. >> thank you both. doug, robby. appreciate it. so to the fires that continue in california. the camp fire in northern
california has now claimed 77 lives. families are searching for nearly 1,000 people. 1,000 people missing. >> it's nuts to imagine. the camp fire already the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the history of california. fire officials say it isn't even halfway done burning. ca kaylee hartung join uz us from chico, california. hot is the latest on the search for the missing? are they making any progress on tracking down these hundreds of folks who are still missing? >> well, jim and poppy, authorities caution that this number of people unaccounted for, it will continue to fluctuate sharply and suddenly, because they're working through multiple reports leading them to build this list. and the search for and the recovery of human remains is an ongoing process. again, authorities saying because so many people were displaced. 50,000 people evacuated from the
fire zone. this is just a very tedious process. one in which also is impacted by where people evacuate, the unreliability of cell phone service, communication with family members, etce cetera. this is an ongoing process, but the crisis in this area has no end in sight, when we're talking about where these tens of thousands of people have gone. this tent city behind me, an example of the need. the people who have lost everything now with weather approaching the area, rain expected on wednesday that could bring mudslides and flooding. there is a greater sense of urgency to get these people into more secure, more safe structures. three american red cross shelters are advertising that they have room. their doors are open, but some of the shelters are as far as an hour away. many of the people who are still in this parking lot who have been living here for 11 days now don't have the means to get there. that's where volunteers come in to play. right here in this parking lot, we have seen donations coming in
by the day, by the minute. whether that be food, clothing, medical supplies, dog food. this white board behind me now helping to instruct people where their resources will be as they are moved from the site. again, that weather approaching this area, bringing a whole new set of challenges for people whose need is already tremendously great. jim and poppy. >> the folks need help. kaylee hartung, thanks very much. still to come this hour, president trump says the u.s. has the tape that captured the murder, the chilling murder of the journalist jamal khashoggi, but he says he will not listen to it. we're going to tell you why he says that. also, democrats continue to make gains in the house, even flipping every republican seat in a place once considered reagan territory. and florida now taking aim at cvs and walgreens, accusing the drugstore giants of contributing to the nationwide opioid crisis. we'll talk to you about the case brought against them and how they're responding. next.
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president trump says the u.s. has a copy of the audio recording that captures the murder of journalist jamal khashoggi inside the saudi consulate in istanbul. >> after seemingly pushing back on the cia assessment that the saudi crown prince personally ordered the murder, the president said he won't listen to the tape. why? listen. >> we have the tape. i don't want to hear the tape. no reason for me to hear the tape. >> why don't you want to hear it, sir? >> because it's a suffering tape. it's a terrible tape.
i have been fully briefed on it. there's no reason for me to hear it. in fact, i said to the people, should i? they said you really shouldn't. i know everything that went on in the tape. >> what happened? >> was very violent, very vicious, and terrible. >> joining us now, former cia and fbi official phil mudd who is now a counterterrorism analyst, and now the director for gulf affairs at the middle east institute. phil mudd, i want to start with you. you have the u.s. intelligence community deliver the president an assessment, it appears a strong assessment, that the crown prince, mohammed bin salman, was involved in this. and you have the president receive that one, saying he doesn't want to hear the tape that's behind some of that assessment, but more broadly, leaving open the possibility that that assessment is just not true. using that phrasing, we don't really know, we'll never really know.
what's your reaction to that? >> well, there's a couple pieces. it reminds me of what we had to deal with in the russia situation where we went from the president repeatedly questioning the intelligence to finally people in the administration saying we got to talk to vladimir putin about this, even though the president didn't want to because the intelligence is too overwhelming. the two quick pieces of the story i tell you are the president has the right to say i received the intelligence. the intelligence is compelling, but i want to maintain a relationship with saudi arabia. it's his right to ignore the intelligence. it's not his right to create the facts. that's where congress is going to come into play, if the intelligence is compelling and the president ignores it, people can say you can ignore it, but you can't create new facts, mr. president. >> ambassador, to you, as this pertains to the broader issue and tied to the horrific war in yemen, you served as u.s. ambassador to yemen from 2010 to 2013. the war there rages on. you have 10,000 people dead, 8 million people on the verge of
starvation. do you believe if the u.s. essentially gives saudi arabia and the crown prince mohammed bin salman a pass here, that will just embolden saudi to carry out these atrocities and continue them in yemen? >> well, i think that it's important to distinguish between the murder of jamal khashoggi and the war in yemen. i think the compelling issue for the united states is to continue supporting the u.n. special envoy in trying to bring this conflict to an end. what happened to jamal was a terrible thing. i think it affects our ability to work with mohammed bin salman going forward. but i don't think that it changes the reality inside of yemen or what the united states needs to be doing in order to try to resolve the conflict and address the humanitarian crisis.
>> phil mudd, senator lindsey graham, republican senator, has been pretty much in lockstep with this president for the last several months. a marked turn for him, but on the issue of the crown prince, the issue of the khashoggi killing, listen to what he had to say this sunday. i want to get your reaction. >> i haven't been briefed, but i believe from day one that 15 people, 18, whatever the number was, they don't get on two airplanes, go to turkey, and chop a guy up in the consulate who is a critic of the crown prince without the crown prince having known about it and sanctioned it. when it comes to the crown prince, he's irrational. he's unhinged. and i think he's done a lot of damage to the relationship between the united states and saudi arabia. >> graham went on to say he personally is done working with the crown prince. if you have a prominent republican senator like that, not to mention as we discussed the intelligence report here,
can the president proceed, keep the relationship on a status quo? >> i think maybe in the long term, but i think in the short term, the question is going to be whether people like lindsey graham translate words into pain. i think other people in the administration, vice president pence, the secretary of state, have been more careful in foreign policy situations, including in this one, than the president has been. you not only have lindsey graham, you have others in the administration more carefully choosing their words about where we're going to be with the saudis if the information is compelling about the involvement in this murder. the bottom line is whether the senate lines up and says okay, we're going tomake it hurt by denying weapons sales. you can't just bar travel. you can't just take people's money. you have to bar weapon sales. >> is phil mudd right that the only way to show saudi and the crown prince we mean it is to, if not cancel an arms deal, pull back on the extent of it? >> well, i think there are a number of different things that
the u.s. can do that would signal very clearly to the saudis that they need to address this situation, that they need to demonstrate clearly that whatever happened with khashoggi, they have modified their decisionmaking train and they have taken steps to insure that nothing like this can happen again. >> but what specifically? i mean, curtailing visas and sanctioning these 17 individuals isn't it, what actually makes them change behavior? >> well, the united states has a very broad and deep range of areas where we work with the saudis. we cooperate very closely with the saudi ministry of interior on a number of different programs. we can pull back on those. we can reduce work with any of the saudi institutions that were
implicated in this assassination. we can do a number of things. one thing that i think is really important is that we need to get an ambassador out to riyadh as quickly as possible in order to expand and deepen the nature of our dialogue with the saudis. and get it out of this kushner/mohammed bin salman channel, which i think has been extremely unhelpful for our interests. >> maybe deliver some hard messages there, and of course, the president has now nominated a former commander in the middle east. here we are, 48 days after khashoggi disappeared, no body and no hard answer from the administration as to the response. phil mudd, gerald fire stein, thanks very much. >> it is a clean sweep for democrats in orange county, california, a place once dubbed reagan country no longer. t-mobile believes it's better to give than to receive. some may disagree.
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conservative bastion. it was a place where ronald reagan touted where good republicans go to die. joining me is harry enten. how did this happen? >> i mean, this is amazing because it's not just where republicans survive during the reagan era. ronald reagan won that county by 50 points in 1984. >> yeah. >> look at where the republican party has been heading and look where the republdemocratic part heading. education levels mean more than any part of history. they have an above average education levels and all were districts romney won in 2012 but hillary clinton won in 2016. >> what does it tell us or tell republicans and democrats and strategists for 2020? >> i think that if the story of 2016 was that non-college whites in the northern part of the country are starting to vote like non-college whites in the southern part of the country, the story of 2020 is college whites in the south will begin
to vote like college whites in the north. you saw this not just in california but you saw it in texas in the seventh and 32nd district. you saw it in georgia, the sixth district. you saw it in kansas. this is a trend that we're seeing across the country, is that education levels are beginning to take on paramount importance compared to everything else in terms of voting patterns, especially among white americans. >> that should change how republicans are running specifically there for example? >> it will change there, and it also may put states into play that weren't in play in 2016. >> like? >> like arizona, like texas maybe, even georgia. >> look what we saw in the midterms in arizona, in texas, even though beto o'rourke didn't win, the fact he was competitive there, the democrat won the senate seat enarizona. >> we saw krirs krysten sinema arizona. beto o'rourke, he did better than any democrat. the fact he lost by 2 1/2 points
paints a potentially interesting college electoral path. if republicans can play in wisconsin, michigan, ohio in the north, maybe democrats can counteract that by playing in the south, playing in states like georgia, texas, arizona. >> democrats advantage in the national house vote continues to climb. you have democrats with an eight-point advantage, better than republicans did in 2010 or 2014. what does that signal to you? >> there are different ways to measure whether this was a wave. i like votes. votes are very easy because they don't depend on how the district lines are drawn, and you can see that when you look at that house popular vote, you see democrats winning by eight, if they get that advantage up to 8 1/2, 9, which is potentially responsible given there are still some votes to be counted in california, that would be the largest win for a minority party of either side in an election, going into the election, democrats were in the minority. this would be the largest win in the popular vote in the minority party in an election dated back
to 1942. that's a blue wave. >> this is why you have such job security, because no one knows these numbers like you do. did you get a vacation, a break at all post-midterms? >> i did not get a vacation or a break. i was in new hampshire at the alma mater and got pulled back by brooke baldwin's show. you can see me with a nice camera there, but it seemed to work well. >> thank you. good to have you. >> all right, to this now. a man is being called a bus driver from heaven after driving evacuated school students through the california wildfires. >> there were like fires left and right. everywhere you looked, there was smoke everywhere. and people trying to get out. >> their terrifying journey to safety is next.
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nearly two dozen elementary school students and their parents are thanking a bus driver who safely drove them through the massive and deadly camp fire in northern california. really a remarkable act of heroism. >> a true, true hero. the children, two teachers, were loaded on a bus. flames were approaching their school. watch this story from our paul vercammen. >> we had a bus driver from heaven. >> good to see you. >> as the camp fire raged, kevin mccay, a few months into his job for the paradise school district, braced for the bus drive of his life and the lives of two dozen others. >> well, it was time to go.
>> stranded children and two teachers jumped on. >> there were 22 kids and my first thought was just getting them on the bus and getting them out of there because the sky was really menacing. >> it was so crazy. and there were like fires left and right, everywhere you looked, there was smoke everywhere. and people trying to get out. and it was like really hard. >> were you scared? >> very scared. but i tried to just like calm down because that would just make it worse for everybody else. >> we started getting fire on both sides of the bus. kids starting to get pretty antsy. at a couple points, i think we had some honest discussions about is this the time to get out of the bus? >> smoke seeped into the bus. children starting inhaling and falling asleep. >> i ran to the front of the bus, and i said kevin, these kids are telling me they're tired. and kevin without thinking about it took his shirt off and tore
it into little pieces. and mary started -- we started tearing it up as quickly as we could. to make filters for these kids to breathe. >> they dipped the rags in water. the harrowing trek continued. mccay drove in the middle of the road to avoid burning trees and buildings. coming down the hill, the sky becomes lighter, the tension eases, the adults intentionally make light comments about having pancakes and a black bear surviving at the black bear diner. >> it was great. after all that tenseness, we needed a joke to loosen everything up. >> then back between walls of fire. >> when we turned the corner, there we were back again. and it was awful. i just felt like this was never going to end. >> just being gridlock, trapped in the road. there was nowhere for us to go. the traffic wasn't moving. and then our last stretch, too, i think that was the -- that was
the moment i thought that we might not make it out. >> abbey's home burned. so did charlotte's and kevin's. mary's still stands. homes were lost, but in the end, everyone on the bus survived. >> safety is such an important part of a bus driver's role. and you know, i must have paid close attention. >> a reference to the class he took on how to keep his precious passengers safe. paul vercammen, cnn, paradise, california. what an amazing man. >> if you're wondering, there are still folks, still heroes among us. >> right, there you go. you can help, go to cnn.com/impact. a big list of ways you can help all of those folks who have lost everything. >> please do. >> just days ago, he praised america's veterans as a group of very important people. but this month, the president is launching a war of words against one of the country's most
decorated ved rns, the man who led the osama bin laden raid. ♪ applebee's bigger, bolder grill combos are back. now that's eatin good in the neighborhood. as one of the nation's largest investors in infrastructure, we don't just help power the american dream, we're part of it. this is our era. this is america's energy era.
welcome back. this morning, the retired admiral credited with leading the osama bin laden raid is doubling down on his criticism of president trump. william mcraven says he stands by his comments that the president's attacks on the media are, quote, the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime. it comes after the president slammed mcraven in an interview with fox news sunday. >> mcraven. retired admiral, navy s.e.a.l. 37 years. former head of u.s. special operations. >> hillary clinton fan.
>> special operations. >> excuse me. hillary clinton fan. >> who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down saddam hussein and killed osama bin laden. says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime. >> he's a hillary clinton backer. and an obama backer. and frankly -- >> he was a navy s.e.a.l. for 37 years. >> wouldn't it be nice if we got osama bin laden a lot sooner than that? >> as a point of fact, mcraven says he did not back clinton or anyone else in 2016. joining me to discuss this is stanley mcchrystal. he led forces in afghanistan. also led joint special operations command during the capture of saddam hussein. he's written a book profiling 13 great leaders titled "leaders, myth and reality." general mcchrystal, thank you for taking the time. >> thanks for having me, jim. >> first, i want to get your reaction to the president's attack here, and just add that he himself has, you might say, tripled down.
he tweeted moments ago the following. of course, we should have captured osama bin laden long before we did. i pointed him out in my book just before the attack on the world trade center. president clinton missed his shot. we paid pakistan billions of dollars and they never told us he lived there. you're familiar with the president's criticisms. you have your own tremendous service to this country, and you led special operations forces before admiral mcraven during a time when you were focused on capturing bad guys in afghanistan, including osama bin laden. tell me about the efforts you and the forces you commanded were making then, and how the president's criticism of those efforts resonates with you. >> well, first, i know bill mcraven and was honored to serve alongside him. i know just a few years ago, he was personally going out on counterterrorist raids with his forces, and the president is simply wrong.
he's uninformed, and he is pushing an idea that i think is not helpful. but i really think it's symptomatic of the crisis in leadership we have in the nation today. and that is when we are allowing what a terrorist does, for example, when a car bomb blows up, that a terrorist has set, it's designed to frighten up, to emflame us, and it's designed to distract us. it's important when we think about leadership in america today, we not fall for that. >> as you know, this is not new. this is part of a pattern with this president, that honored military service is no protection from the president's attacks if you criticize this president. you could say the same of john mccain. you could say it of robert mueller. decorated for his service in vietnam. khizr khan, who made the ultimate sacrifice in losing his son. for someone like you who served so many years in the military, i know you're out of the military now, but you're in touch with your comrades, current and former.
what effect does this have on military members' morale, when they hear the commander in chief make such personal attacks on people who have made such sacrifice for this country? >> i don't think personal attacks on anyone is warranted. i think there's a certain honestly to what's happening now. the president didn't go to arlington cemetery for veterans day, and maybe that's honest, because if you really don't care, it would be a dishonest to pretend you do. but i think when we think about leaders, what we really want is we don't need people who are smarter than everyone else or richer than everyone else or braver than everyone else. we need humans. but humans who can empathize. humans who can listen, humans who can inspire. humans who can make us be better than we would otherwise be. and leaders who can bring together teams of the kind of people who are going to have to solve the problems that our nation faces today. >> and to be asked to solve
those problems, the military often under the most dangerous circumstances, you know well. you know better than me that soldiers, men and women, they answer the call. they answer the order when it's given. and they have shown that over the last couple of decades of america's two longest wars. as a commander, who is very conscious of the importance of good leadership, do you worry that there's a lack of respect for this commander in chief? or that morale is being affected to a degree or even his judgment question by serving members of the military. that undermines america's military readiness because of the lack of the leadership you describe? >> well, i believe that the military culture is pretty solid. i think that the culture of the united states is solid as well. i think there's a belief in citizenship. there's a belief in responsibility. there's a belief in service that is just genuine and very, very deep. i think that's stronger than any
near term leadership things we may either follow enthusiastically or disagree with. it's really important that we go back to what is important in america. we look in the mirror and we decide what we are and what we want our nation to be. how we want our nation to be viewed. how we want our grandchildren to look at us. and i think that culture is solid enough that even though winds will blow in every direction, that will come through. we do need to remind ourselves that when things are difficult, we need to stand up and be strong. >> yeah. many members of the military, of course, as many american citizens voted for this president. you might say there's some evidence that most members of the military voted for this president. i'm not going to ask you to be sort of an armchair pollster here, but i'm curious from your conversations and experiences, has the view of this president changed over time, in the last couple years, as they heard these consistent attacks on people like admiral mcraven? >> i haven't asked anyone that
question because in this environment, i don't think it's fair. but my sense is that the leaders i have known and the people who are followers of which i am one also, we have certain things we want and demand of leaders. and to a degree, there has to be a confidence in the leader's basic core values. we have to be able to believe in enough of what that leader represents to feel comfortable following them. sometimes to our deaths. and so i think the degree to which people are uncomfortable with behavior or attitudes that are incongruent with what they believe in, that has to be a factor. >> general mcchrystal, we thank you for your time. more importantly, we thank you for your service to the country. >> for all of his service. thank you. really interesting, important interview. thank you for that. on average, 45 people die every day in this country because of opioids. and the state of florida is taking action. the country's two largest drugstore chains, florida's attorney general, says deserve
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the state of florida is suing the nation's two largest drugstore chains. the state's attorney general claims walgreens and cvs played a role in creating the opioid crisis by overselling painkillers and not doing enough to stop illegal sales. >> cnn chief business correspondent christine romans is with us for more. this is a case brought by the florida a.g. pam bondi, who is also in talks might she be the next attorney general, and it goes hard after walgreens, cvs and others. >> it's adding walgreens and cvs
into a big complaint, a suit, perdue pharmaceuticals, johnson & johnson, a whole bunch of names they say knowingly prescribed, distributed, and sold way too many pills. a couple examples. walgreens in the cup plaint, it says they sold -- dispensed 2.2 million tablets from a store in a town with a population of 12,000. >> 2.2 million opioid tablets. another case of a town of 3,000, where 285,000 pills a month were distributed from a walgreens. and cvs, a little less precise, but on cvs, they also say there were way too many pills. humanly impossible for floridians to consume that many pills. here's what cvs says. we believe the state of florida's addition of cvs pharmacy to this lawsuit is without merit. cvs is dedicated to reducing drug abuse and diversion. and they have showned how they
have tried to ratchet this back. the awareness is growing. walgreens told us they're not going to comment on pending litigation. >> what is their explanation for how they didn't notice that many millions of pills were being prescribed in a town with 3,000 people? >> their focus right now is how they are trying to fix this now. but what the state is saying is this went on for a very long time. they go all the way back to 1999 and show these huge numbers of opioids. you know, the problem in florida was that people were coming from out of state, and i think 90 of the top 100 prescribing doctors of opioids in this country were all in florida. so there were these sort of pill mills in florida. and florida, you know, said their people suffered. they have morgues on some day, they chronicle some days where the morgues were overflowing. they didn't have more morgue space, and they have medical examiners who couldn't take a day off because you're having ten overdoses a day. >> we saw that first-hand in ohio. we were inside of a morgue freezer where they had no more
room for these bodies because of this crisis. but walgreens and cvs, they have limited the amount of pills that they sell to like seven at a time. >> after one could argue that so much of the country is addicted. so now, what is the path forward here? >> thank you. >> communities across the country, similar experiences. >> thanks for being with us today. we'll see you tomorrow morning. i'm poppy harlow. >> i'm jim sciutto. at this hour with kate bolduan starts right now. hello, everyone. i'm kate bolduan. we're following breaking news this morning. three senate democrats filing a lawsuit today, challenging matthew whitaker's appointment as acting attorney general. i want to get over to cnn justice reporter laura jarrett for more on this. laura, what's going on here? what are you seeing? >> hey there, kate. the senate democrats are launching this latest lawsuit, escalating the legal battle we have seen against whitaker's appointment over the last several days. their basic argumen