Return to Transcripts main page


Clinton Reveals Gun Executive Action Proposals as Poll Numbers Drop; Amtrak Trail Details in Vermont; Historic Flooding in South Carolina; S.C. Governor Nikki Haley Press Briefing. Aired 11:30-12a ET

Aired October 5, 2015 - 11:30   ET


[02:30:00] MIKE SHIELDS, PRESIDENT, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND & FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: She's going to announce something today on gun control. In 2000, she was for gun control. In 2008, she was against gun control. Now again, she's for gun control. And what we know is like within 14 hours, that story will be out of the news anyway because there will be another e-mail revelation that comes out. I'm sure she's going to try to lean into this. She has to keep coming up with answers for Benghazi. But the fact is, this is damaging to her campaign. The polls you just talked about reflect how poorly her campaign is going. I think the only people that see Hillary Clinton as a good candidate are the people in her campaign and all the Democrats in Washington that seem to be blindly following her.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: She's leading in every national poll.


SHIELDS: Right, right.

BERMAN: So the people that think she's --


SHIELDS: Well, she's leading, but when you add up the numbers, when you add up the numbers -- look at one of the polls, she has 33 percent. Sanders has 28 percent and Biden has 22 percent. That's 33 percent for Hillary, 50 percent for someone not Hillary.


BRAD WOODHOUSE, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Biden --Joe Biden's not in the race. Joe Biden's not even in the race. Look, on this Benghazi thing --

SHIELDS: Not yet.

WOODHOUSE: -- this is an abomination what the Republicans have done. The Republican Select Committee in the House has become an annex of the Republican National Committee. Seven previous congressional investigations found no wrongdoing but they had to set up one more to try to go after Hillary Clinton. Kevin McCarthy said what it was about. It was about to bring her -- about bringing her poll numbers down. It wasn't about substance.

BOLDUAN: Mike, what do you say about that? That's a pretty strong charge.

SHIELDS: Well, look, the fact of the matter is, that committee was set up because the administration and Hillary Clinton weren't answering questions. We find out about these e-mails. This is a perfect example. Hillary Clinton believes those are her e-mails. When you work for the government, those are not your e-mails. Those are the people's e-mails. And the people get to decide whether they get FOIA'ed. They get to decide whether or not they're classified. She violated all those rules because she plays by her own rules.


WOODHOUSE: You know what? Mike, that is wrong.


WOODHOUSE: The Justice Department said that she, like every public employee, gets to decide what names are personal, what are business. She turned over --


SHIELDS: She's never explained why she did it. She's never explained. We know why she did it.


SHIELDS: We know why she did it. She doesn't want people to see her e-mails.

BERMAN: Look, if there's a political argument like this before that committee, then I think Hillary may have a point there, right?

BOLDUAN: But, Brad, what is Hillary Clinton -- what your advice, if you're advising her, what's your advice when she goes in before that committee? Because after this debate, that is a huge moment for her when she goes before this committee.

WOODHOUSE: I think she should continue to be transparent. She's been more transparent than almost any public official has been with respect to releasing e-mails. We didn't get a single e-mail released from either secretary of state in the George Bush administration. She's released 33,000 pages. I think, be transparent, be forceful, you know, be contrite. She's apologized for the confusion it's caused. But don't let these people play politics as they have with the lives of four dead Americans.

BOLDUAN: Mike, she just turned her biggest liability into a big net positive for her. Because how are Republicans going to combat that charge if she levels it at them before this committee?

SHIELDS: I think you'll see a committee trying to get to the truth about what happened in Benghazi. You'll see it isn't political. All the political stuff we're talking about is not what's going to be in front of that committee. This is an investigation to find out exactly who knew what and what happened when an ambassador and four Americans were killed in Benghazi. We still haven't gotten to the bottom of that.


SHIELDS: There's been stonewalling. There's been obfuscation. The administration has not been transparent on this. This committee would not have any ground, it would have Democrats on it, working with Republicans, if they had actually told the truth and we got to the bottom of what happened.

So I actually look forward to seeing the committee proving it's not political because they're going to ask substantive questions. And the last time she went in front of a committee is when she said, "What difference does it make." So Hillary's performance in front of these committees is not what I would call transparent.

WOODHOUSE: Kate, they cannot prove it's not political because by the time this hearing takes place, the Republicans will have a speaker of the House that said that's what it was entirely about.

SHIELDS: We'll see.

WOODHOUSE: So they can't disprove --

BOLDUAN: We'll see.

WOODHOUSE: -- that it wasn't political. It absolutely was political.

BERMAN: Brad Woodhouse, Mike Shields, we'll have to see, because that charge has put Kevin McCarthy in hot water and perhaps won him a new challenge from Jason Chaffetz.

Gentlemen, thank you much.

WOODHOUSE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you both. Thank you.

A reminder for all of you, the first Democratic presidential debate airs one week from tomorrow, Tuesday, October 13th right here on CNN at 9:00 p.m. eastern.

BERMAN: Very exciting.

Any minute now, we'll hear from South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley on the flooding there. The one in a 1,000-year rainfall. Desperate rescue efforts under way. First responders searching for people that could be trapped by these waters. We'll speak to a storm chaser who filmed just a stunning rescue ahead.

[11:34:54] BOLDUAN: And a face-off on Capitol Hill as the battle for speaker of the House heats up. Will anyone have enough votes to win the position? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We have breaking news just into CNN. Amtrak confirms a passenger train has derailed in Vermont in the town of Northfield, about 10 miles south of Montpelier. We're told at least two cars went off the track over an embankment. First responders are on their way right now. Firefighter, police, also headed to the scene. We got word four people are being transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. But again, there is one train I know of, the Vermonter, that goes back and forth to Vermont. This is Amtrak train 55, we're told. Again, we're waiting for pictures and more information. Word is a derailment south of Montpelier. Four people headed for medical care right now.

[11:40:05] BOLDUAN: Amtrak confirming that. First responders heading to the scene. Folks being transported as we speak. As we get more information, we'll bring it to you.

We're also, at this very moment, waiting to hear from the South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley. You see a picture of the podium she'll be speaking from. She'll be addressing the state and really the nation about this historic rainfall and flooding that has hammered state.

They are not out of the woods yet in terms of the danger. Some areas have seen almost two feet of rain in just the past few days. State officials say hundreds of water rescues were needed over the weekend as highway after highway seemed to be shut down as the water rushed in. The flooding, triggered by tremendous rain coming from Hurricane Joaquin. It's taken the lives of seven people in the Carolinas. The death toll is expected still to rise.

BERMAN: As of this morning, 389 roads closed, 158 bridges closed. We have one video, remarkable, a pick-up truck being swept away, floating down what used to be a road, with the driver inside. Rescue crews did manage to kick out the back window of that truck and pull the driver to safety.

Joining us by phone is the storm chaser who shot this really stunning video, Brandon Sullivan.

Brandon, thanks for being with us.

Brandon, there were feet of rain falling. You know, two feet of rain falling over the weekend. It's coming down and down and down. What was it like to be in the middle of it all? Tell me what you saw with this stunning scene.

BRANDON SULLIVAN, STORM CHASER (voice-over): Yeah, I mean, this whole experience has been surreal. I'm so used to chasing tornadoes but Accuweather sent me out here to cover this. I've never seen anything like it. The floodwaters were so deep. But I think the thing that got me is how many people were going around the barricades, thinking they could drive through some of these things. You sit there helpless, watching them getting carried away. BOLDUAN: Absolutely. We're looking at the video you took. Then you

see this moment where this person starts kicking out the back window of this pickup truck to help these folks out. Do you know anything more about who this person was, why they were there, how this all happened?

SULLIVAN: To be honest, I forgot his name, but he pulled up and said he was going to swim out there. That was actually really horrifying for us to watch. You know, we said we wouldn't recommend it. The fire department was on the way. As he swam out there, he actually got carried downstream. If it wasn't for the tree he was able to grab on to, we would have had to witness, you know, that unfold as well. That was really scary to watch. Luckily, he grabbed a tree. But then he had to be rescued as well from the truck.

BERMAN: How fast was the water rising? I mean, did people not have -- we've been talking about the rain going into South Carolina for days. Did they miss the warning somehow?

SULLIVAN: Yeah, that was one thing that really surprised me. This was very well advertised. There were barricades everywhere. The white truck you see here had 100 yards or more that he -- the water he drove through before he got swept away. So, he went around the barricades, had to drive for at least 100 yards, had all the time in the world to decide that this was a bad idea, but he kept going. I just couldn't understand what was -- what the thought process was there.

BOLDUAN: Thank goodness someone came to help. Thank goodness fire and rescue were on their way to help as well. Amazing you got these images.

Real quick, you've covered a lot of storms. You say you are often chasing tornadoes. Put it in perspective for folks looking at this video, but you're in the middle of it. What is this water like when you're seeing it everywhere?

SULLIVAN: You know, it's so incredibly powerful. This flooding scares me more than any tornado ever. Water is so powerful. You can't tell what you're getting into. You can't tell how deep it is. But once you're in there, it's so hard to get out, as you see here. I'm just glad there was a good ending here.

BOLDUAN: No kidding.

BERMAN: More powerful than any tornado from a man who's been in the middle of both.

BOLDUAN: Chases tornadoes.

BERMAN: That's really interesting.

Brandon Sullivan, thanks for much for joining us. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Brandon. BERMAN: We have new details about the breaking news from Vermont. A

train has derailed there, an Amtrak train. Several people are hurt. We'll bring you details right after the break.


[11:48:55] BOLDUAN: We are following the breaking news just in here at CNN about the train derailment that we are learning more about. Amtrak is confirming on their Twitter account that a train has derailed in Vermont.

For more information, let's get over to Rene Marsh, who is tracking this in Washington.

And it is early stage, Rene, but what more are you hearing?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I just got off of the phone with Amtrak, Kate, and we have additional information. We know that the train was traveling from St. Albans, Vermont, and headed to Washington, D.C. According to an Amtrak official, the train reportedly, it struck a rockslide on the tracks. That is what I am told. According to the official, quote, "When it derailed, it reportedly struck a rockslide on the tracks so it seems as if there was something on the tracks there, and rocks, and that caused this derailment."

We are getting word that at least four people are injured, but this Amtrak official telling me, at this point, they don't have any reports of life threatening injury, but as you said, it is very early. We know that the Amtrak police and management are on the way to the scene of this crash. We also know that the investigators with the Federal Railroad Administration are also on the way.

[11:50:15] And I spoke recently with the NTSB and they were beginning to get information on exactly what happened here. But of course, we are watching and hoping that this is not going to be as disastrous as what we saw in Philadelphia when that train derailed.

We are not getting, and we don't have any images at this point, but we do know that this happened just about south of the capital there in Vermont. And we know that the roadway where this happened is pretty much a main drag there through this community.

But again, investigators are trying to make their way there, and we have a word of at least four injured. But Amtrak is telling me a few moments ago that, at this point, they don't know if there are any life-threatening injuries, but they, too, themselves are working to get themselves to the scene -- Kate?

BERMAN: OK. Rene Marsh for us. Thank you so much.

I want to bring in Mary Schiavo, former inspector general for the Department of Transportation.

Mary, it's real interesting. I was going to ask before, Vermont, this is not like it's a congested area of track and there should not be a lot of twists and turns, but Rene is reporting that they hit some type of rockslide there to cause the derailment. That might explain what happened here.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN TRANSPORTATION ANALYST: Yes, and you know, there have been disastrous crashes in Philadelphia where over speeding was involved, et cetera, but most of the time when you have a derailment and accidents, it is something with the rails. The rails are not on straight or there's an obstruction, and so this is a more typical situation. And again, there are many things that could have given the train indications, the conductor indications that there was a problem on the track, but we won't know whether the rails were outfitted with the most up-to-the-minute safety equipment that would have alerted them to this or if the rockslide happened moments before the train arrived.

BOLDUAN: Or just as the train arrived, too. That is an interesting point. But if the rockslide had happened previously, there are some ways for those in the charge of the train to know about this, and what should happen? If they could avoid any of the rockslides, obviously, what is the way to do it?

SCHIAVO: Well, there are many new systems, and certainly not on all of the tracks of the United States. In fact, on very few. But some systems are installed on the track to give the train and the rail operator indications of the conditions of the tracks, and it is two- way communication systems of the track itself, and it is a smart rail if you will, and it is on very few track systems. And this was a big subject of the conversation after this the deadly derailment in Philadelphia a year or so ago. And of course, the rail administration and others have called upon the installation of these more up-to-the- date safety equipment systems on all of the tracks. It's a just a matter of time and expense. They do have those on that particular section of track, and whether it is on the section that this Amtrak train was traveling over, we don't know.

And also, Amtrak does not own the rails for which it travels. Rails in the United States are owned by many rail lines and the owner is responsible for keeping up that track.

BOLDUAN: Something that we have talked about in past conversations when it comes to the train derailments.

And, Mary, thank you very much.

We're going to be following this. But as you can see, a recap, Amtrak is confirming a train derailment in Vermont. This was a train that was heading south from Vermont. It was heading to Washington, D.C. Four folks being transferred to hospitals as we speak. 98 passengers were on the train. Their injuries not seeming to be life threatening. But we'll continue to follow this and bring you any updates.

BERMAN: Let's hope those injuries stay minor.

And any minute now, we'll hear from South Carolina's govern on the historic rainfall and flooding there. Rescue efforts under way at this moment. We will bring you the governor's remarks, live, straight ahead.


[11:57:19] BERMAN: Governor Nikki Haley, of South Carolina, right now briefing reporters on what's going on in that state. Historic flooding. Her response --



NIKKI HALEY, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: We don't want to have to come out to rescue you and, much worse, we don't want to have you added to the number of fatalities. And we do ask people to avoid that and just watch TV for the pictures.

We are looking at now 550 roads and bridges that are closed. And what you will see happen is, as the water is shifting down, we will preposition where the roads are closed. Roads are closed now in the upstate. You'll start to see road closures down from the midlands down to the low country as that water flows. So don't be surprised. If there is a road that's open now, that doesn't mean it is going to be staying open. You will probably some roads closed, and that is something we are watching carefully as the water flows. And we are working with all of our team members here, and Secretary Hall.

Of the 550 roads closed, 500 of those are in Columbia and in the Columbia area. DPS has responded to almost 2700 total calls. 910 were collisions that they responded to.

The biggest challenges that we face is following the wave of the water from the midlands down to the coast. Road closures, trying to monitor those and make sure that we we're watching those properly. Debris removal, now we're getting to that point to where we are looking for downed trees, any sort of limbs or things that are getting in the way.

The good news is that we are getting into the assessment-and-recovery mode, so a lot of that is where we can start to assess the damage to really start making some good decisions on how we can go and get people back into a protected situation but also back into a recovery situation.

Water issues, we have quite a few water issues that we are seeing either people are without water or contaminated water. So we do want people to be extremely careful as they're going on with this water issue.