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Interview with Sen. Bob Casey, of Pennsylvania; Evacuations in Texas Ahead of Cat 1 Hurricane; First White House Briefing Since August 2nd Soon; Woman Sole Winner of $758.7 Million Powerball Lottery; White House Briefing Begins. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 24, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] SEN. BOB CASEY, (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Condemn them and work against them and try to put them out of business and not do this bizarre and insulting and really damaging false equivalency. So he has to, at some point, tell the American people where we're headed. He needs to work on an infrastructure bill. He needs to lead the country in the right direction. So we pay our bills, so that we move the economy forward and raise wages, instead of condemning people and creating all kinds of chaos and division. So, you don't need to be an expert to assess that he's leading the country in the wrong direction. And I heard a good bit of that when I went across Pennsylvania this August.


As we watch to see what happens when you all return to washington in September, let me just ask you quickly about this retweet of the president, this meme. And the caption was, "The best eclipse ever." It's basically his head eclipsing that of former President Obama.

You know, President Trump has been in the Oval Office for some 216 days now. I'm just curious, Senator Casey, do you think he's obsessed with Obama?

CASEY: Well, first of all, the fact that he or his administration would spend time constructing that image is really kind of --


BALDWIN: I don't know if they did, but they retweeted it.

CASEY: Well, even retweeting, it's like third grade. I'm hoping there's a silver lining here, Brooke. Maybe he wants to imitate some of the policy successes of President Obama. That's one way to look at it. But it is rather bizarre. We have serious business to undertake, and the president has to tell us very clearly that we're going to get about the business of rebuilding our infrastructure. We've got lots of bridges in Pennsylvania I wish he'd work with us on rebuilding. We've got places that need high-speed Internet so kids can learn in school, businesses can grow. And we've got a lot of families that are paying too high prescription drug costs. So those are the issues people want us to work on. And every minute he's wasting on chaos and division and activities like you've seen the last couple weeks, gets us further away from the business of the country. And I think that's a bipartisan concern, people in both parties have about his failure to lead on major issues.

BALDWIN: I am glad you have been out there listening, Senator Casey. You all have big, big jobs ahead of you in just two weeks' time.

Thank you so much.

CASEY: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You got it.

Any moment now, the first White House briefing in weeks. Lots to discuss. We'll take it live.

And breaking news, we now have a category one hurricane trekking toward the Texas coast. Mandatory evacuations are under way. The latest update when we come back.


[14:37:18] BALDWIN: Texas and the gulf coast bracing for the first major hurricane to hit in years. Harvey just became a category one hurricane. The National Hurricane Center warns Harvey is rapidly getting stronger. Could be a category three hurricane by the time it hits the Texas coast, possibly by tomorrow.

Let's go straight to CNN Meteorologist Tom Sater.

Tom, tell me what you know.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The area of red, Brooke, is where we have hurricane warning, so this will be ground zero for land fall. And not until about after midnight tomorrow night in the wee hours, in the darkness of saturday morning. But we have tropical-storm storm warnings near inland, even near Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

It's been 12 years since the U.S. has seen a landfall of a major hurricane. That's category three, four, or five. This category one storm, Harvey, is most likely going to reach major category status, at a category three, maybe even close to a four, but we'll see if there's enough time and space. Moving in the vicinity of Corpus Christi. However, this is a double-edged sword. Notice the path. It comes in and wants to back out a little bit. First of all, that's a little concerning. We want to get the system in and get it moved on because this is going to drop a lot of rainfall. The computer models right now, besides giving us a category three with winds over 110 miles per hour, with a coastal surge of six to 10 feet, watch what happens, Brooke. All the computer models, pretty good agreement where it makes landfall near Corpus Christi. But then we lose the major steering component, and the models fan out. Several of them bring it back offshore this weekend and bring it back in. It could intensify if it's over water. I'm not sure if that's going to happen. But the big concern is, it has nowhere to go except meander in the same location where rainfall totals could get up to 10, 15, 20, 25. This is one mile. Everything in purple is over 10 inches. Look how far inland the 20-plus inches go, to Austin, to San Antonio. Another computer model, pretty much the same location but keeps it more widespread for heavy rainfall.

This could be a situation like we had in 2001. Measly little Tropical Storm Allison moved in as a tropical storm and meandered for days dropping 30, 40 inches of rain. Could be catastrophic. Unfortunately, it's happening this weekend. Today's the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew plowing into Homestead, Florida, as well -- Brooke?

[14:39:39] BALDWIN: We know you have your eye on Harvey. Folks can track it at

Tom Sater, for now, thank you very much.

And just a reminder to all of you, we are watching, waiting for this White House briefing to get going. It's been since August 2nd, so we haven't been briefed since Charlottesville happened, and "fire and fury" in North Korea, the Republican warfare now. Big, big topics to discuss. We've got that.

Also, moments ago, the woman who just became $758 million richer -- that's a mighty big check -- revealed herself as the lone winner of the Powerball jackpot. Hear how she found out, coming up.






BALDWIN: It has been three weeks since we have seen Sarah Huckabee Sanders stand behind that podium or a spokesperson there at the White House brief the press. So, a lot has happened then, especially because of what happened last week with Charlottesville. So we're eager to get some answers from the White House on that and so many other big, big topics.

I got great voices standing by to talk about this ahead of time and, of course, after the fact.

Chris Cillizza, beginning with you, and I'm thinking of the president's Twitter feed today. I'm thinking of the still continued attacks on the -- on his teammate, on the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and how you know, early this morning, at that breakfast, he likened himself to, what was it, a cemetery groundskeeper. But still, he's very careful, at least publicly, not to lash back out at the president. Sort of like nothing to see here, move along.

[14:45:16]CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Which is, Brooke, his way. I mean, Trump and McConnell are oil and water, just personality-wise. Trump is a showman and a provocateur. McConnell is a behind the scenes strategist, essentially. But the thing that no one has denied is that they don't talk and haven't for a while now. Look, it's the Republican president of the United States and the Republican leader of the Republican majority in the Senate. That's a big deal. And they're not talking. But Donald Trump continues to go after Mitch McConnell on health care. Remember, Donald Trump, not that long ago, left open the question of whether Mitch McConnell should consider resigning if he doesn't get more done. He went after him, albeit, obliquely, on tuesday in Arizona, now on Twitter.

BALDWIN: How much of this really, Chris, is about health care versus, as we discovered in "The New York Times," reporting on that contentious phone call back on, what was it, August 9th -- all my days are running together -- that it was really about he was just irked because he didn't cover him on Russia.

CILLIZZA: I think Russia is a big part of it. I think health care is a big part of it. I think it's a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of Donald Trump and he's shown this well beyond his relationship with Mitch McConnell. It's a fundamental misunderstanding of how the president interacts with the legislative branch. Donald Trump doesn't understand why everyone doesn't work for him. Why aren't you doing what I told you to do. It's not a big company. These people were elected in their own right. He is not their boss. He's never really understood that. Frankly, I'm not sure he ever will understand it because he doesn't want to. He likes the other model better. So I think it's broader than, yes, it's about Russia but it's about why did you not cover me, why did you not look out for me, I'm your guy and that's something that's sort of run through it all. A fundamental misunderstanding of how you convince people to get on your side. We saw that during the health care debate. And then how do you work with people? How do you find ways to work with people who you don't have that much in common with like Mitch McConnell?

BALDWIN: We'll listen to see the White House defends the president's continued berating of the Senate majority leader. And also criticizing Paul Ryan on Twitter today.

Juana Summers, a lot has happened in three weeks since we've had out last briefing. What else will you be listening for?

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think the biggest thing I'm listening for, a lot of the country -- I just got back from a trip to Missouri where I was covering Senator Claire McCaskill. A lot of people in these states that went for Trump, even people who support the president, really are curious about what his thinking is surrounding Charlottesville, certainly a lot of us here talking about it and those initial comments where he said that there was wrong done on both sides. And then he said, you know, we should denounce bigotry by name, talked about those hate groups. Then went back to both sides. So figuring out where the president stands on those issues is incredibly important because it's something a lot of voters are talking about. And that's coming into these debates over not just white supremacists and white nationalists, but also in these debates over whether or not these Confederate statues in states across the country should remain. And that's a debate the president has asserted himself forcefully into. So I would expect to hear Sarah Huckabee Sanders to get some questions on those issues today.

BALDWIN: Do you expect increased clarity on that?

SUMMERS: Not holding my breath on that. And that's not because of anything that Sarah Huckabee Sanders could say or do. But it's because the president has continued to shift his positions repeatedly. He's someone who said, in that speech, this is about changing culture, these weak, weak people that are changing culture, erasing history. On the other hand, he seems to have a reverence for history in some of the speeches. So this is a function of a president who seems to go back and forth a little bit, less so than anything that his spokespeople or communications shop can do to clarify for us.

BALDWIN: So, Kirsten Powers, Charlottesville, Republican, you know, intraparty fighting. What else will you be listening for?

KRISTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the "Wall Street Journal" has a story about the White House sending directions to the Pentagon about the transgender ban, which is pretty clear when the president had tweeted out about this that the Pentagon didn't seem super excited about it.

BALDWIN: Didn't know about it.

POWERS: Didn't know about it and they didn't seem like they were really rushing to try to do anything about it. That they basically -- their response was to sort of let things take their course, which is they have it under review right now. So, you know, what does this mean? Does the White House expect them to just interrupt this period where they're reviewing the policy or do they expect them to just act now on what the White House is telling them to do?

BALDWIN: What does it mean for current members of the military? I mean, are they just gone? Are they kicked out? We don't --


[14:49:56] POWERS: Exactly. There is no clarity and I think -- again, it's the question is, if the military is saying, you know, we don't think this was the right process, is the president going to defer to them or is he going to try to tell them that they have to do this whether they think it's good policy or not.

BALDWIN: Caitlin, what else.

CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REALCLEARPOLITICS: The debt ceiling is on the president's mind. And they haven't really laid out what they want in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. What that package would look like. Also, we've seen that the president is upset about the coverage of his three different iterations this week, from the speech about Afghanistan to the rally to the next speech to --


BALDWIN: He says it's not whiplash, he's versatile. HUEY-BURNS: Right, exactly. That's his argument. I'm curious to see

how the White House portrays this. This is an element of the presidency that certainly frustrates Republicans because they don't know which one they're dealing with at any given point.



CILLIZZA: And Brooke --

BALDWIN: Yes, go ahead.

CILLIZZA: -- I was going to say, I'll make a prediction that I'm certain will come true, because this is a consistency.

BALDWIN: All right.

CILLIZZA: They will attack the media. I mean, you know --


BALDWIN: Breaking news.

CILLIZZA: If there is a consistent thread through Donald Trump's campaign and through this White House, it is the media is biased, they don't report on us correctly, you guys screw everything up. He said the right thing in Charlottesville, you said he didn't. It's this attempt to muddy the waters, knowing that their base, when thrown the red meat of the media as the big bad wolf will sort of accept it without questioning it.

BALDWIN: OK. Well, we can stand by for that. But let's hope for some substance and some clarity as well.

Everyone, stand by.

Again, we haven't had a White House briefing -- listen, you know, president's been on a working vacation, but he's back. We're going to get this briefing momentarily. Stay with me.


BALDWIN: We are standing by for that White House press briefing any moment now.

But let me tell you about this happy story today. Here's a quote: "You're joking." That is what a Massachusetts mom said when a friend told her she had won the largest single winning jackpot in our nation's history. This is a cool $758.7 million.

Just a short time ago, standing beside this check, the mother of two shared what went through her mind when the news set in, and how she plans to celebrate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [14:55:14] MAVIS WANCZYK, POWERBALL JACKPOT WINNER: I just happened to find out. I was at work. Leaving work at night. And I leave with this guy, Rob, a fireman. We just happen to walk out. He said, I bet somebody won with these numbers with birthdays. I went, oh, yeah. Never going to be me. It's a pipe dream I've always had.

I was reading these numbers. Pulled mine out. I have -- I have that -- I have that. He goes, let me see that ticket. He goes, you just won. I go, you're joking. Come on, please. He said, sign that ticket now.

I couldn't drive anywhere. I couldn't do anything. He followed me to make sure I was safely home, to go and --



WANCZYK: That's how I found out, from him.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Where did you buy that ticket? Were you just there to buy a ticket or something else?

WANCZYK: I was just in to buy -- just go in, buy a stack of tickets and, OK, maybe it's me, maybe it won't be me. This is a chance, a chance I had to take.


BALDWIN: Chicopee, Massachusetts. Chris Cillizza, have you ever been there? Ever hear about --

CILLIZZA: It's right -- first of all, I'm bitter because it's like 30 minutes from where I grew up. So that could have been --


BALDWIN: Oh, should have been you.


CILLIZZA: Yes. I should have had my parents.

But two things. One, no one loves the oversized check more than me. I feel like we need more of those in life, not less. That's point one.

Point two, I do not want to rain on Mavis's parade because she has $758 million more than me.

BALDWIN: But. You're about to.

CILLIZZA: But anyone who's seen anything about lottery winners, it can ruin your life. So, just invest it, take your time with it. Don't -- everyone's going to want some. I may look to call Mavis. We're northeasterners, she and I, New Englanders. But, yes, it can be not the best thing in the world.


BALDWIN: Chris Cillizza, Powerball pundit today. I mean --

CILLIZZA: I have a lot of lottery thoughts, Brooke, a lot.

BALDWIN: Is this from a place of, you know, bitterness? Did something happen, once upon a time?

CILLIZZA: That I didn't win?


CILLIZZA: Well, I haven't won the lottery yet, Brooke, so I am bitter about that.

BALDWIN: Clearly, because we're still talking on television, you'd be like --

CILLIZZA: In truth, if the oversized-check industry could just send me an oversized check, it doesn't have to be legal tender, then I think I would be fine.

BALDWIN: I got nothing. I got nothing.

Stand by.

CILLIZZA: Me neither.

CILLIZZAA: And break.

BALDWIN: Sorry about that.

And break.

Wait. Here's Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Perfect.

Chris Cillizza, thank you.

Let's go to the White House.


You guys don't seem nearly as excited. I thought for sure there would be balloons or something.


HUCKABEE SANDERS: We'll save that for next time, I guess.

Earlier this week, the president delivered his first primetime address to the nation on our path forward in Afghanistan and south Asia. The president's strategy is based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables. And it will ensure terrorists never again use Afghanistan as a haven to attack the United States.

The brave men and women of our nation's military have given extraordinary sacrifices to this longest war in American history. The president recognized those sacrifices on Monday during his speech.

And I'd like to recognize one particular story here today. Joseph, a gentleman from Santa Fe, Tennessee, sent his son, a master sergeant in the United States Air Force, a letter nearly 10 years ago while he was serving our country in Iraq. Now his son is on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan and his father has generously shared the letter and mailed it to the president that he wrote.

Joseph told the president that he's been a police officer for over 30 years and that he sent this letter to his son and on to the White House in hopes that the president would actually receive it and read it, which I'm glad to say that he did earlier today.

In his letter to his son, Joseph wrote, "Please don't lose sight of your purpose. You're the only hope and glimmer of light for the good, innocent, men, women, and children that you are protecting. This may be hard for you to see or understand. Most people know that all of you are there because you volunteered to be there. Your actions and dedication are seen by people throughout the world as, without a doubt, the most heroic action of any person which can be made. You and the soldiers standing next to you from all of the other countries are the pride of not only the nations they represent but every individual that yearns to be free. Stand tall, my son, and be steadfast, for it is you who are the defender of freedom."

We owe it to the servicemen and women, like the master sergeant, who have fought in our name in Afghanistan for 17 years, and to the families who have watched them go to secure an honorable and lasting outcome to this conflict.

As the president said on Monday, the men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory.