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Texas Governor On Harvey: 'Worst Is Not Yet Over'; Trump Promises "Rapid Action" On Harvey Recovery; Team Rubicon Helps with Harvey Disaster Relief; Gospel Singers Give Impromptu Concert at Shelter. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 30, 2017 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:05] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thanks, Anderson. And thank you for helping us, coming up, as well. I am Chris Cuomo and this is "Prime Time".

All right, here's the quote of the day. The worst is not yet over. Heed the warning from Texas Governor Greg Abbott about the devastation from what was the Tropical Storm Harvey. It is now a tropical depression, but in many areas, that is a distinction without a difference. How fragile is the situation? This fragile.

Look at this picture. A coast guard crew member cradles a baby rescued from the flooding. Life or death, the line between rescue and recovery almost too thin to contemplate. First responders and what we're calling the Concerned Citizen Corps, they're putting up staggering numbers of hours on the job and rescues. The situation, though, has changed on the ground, for better and for worse. There are new assets in play from the U.S. military, and there are new challenges that are raising the stakes.

We have a bird's eye view of Beaumont, Texas. Take a look at this city, submerged. Why? Well, big reason, 26 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Now, the mayor of Port Arthur, Texas, says his city is also underwater. We're going to talk to somebody who is trapped there. She is with five other elderly people, waiting for help. A big question is going to be, where will this help come from in the days, weeks, months to come? Will President Trump deliver for the Harvey survivors? He says he will. But can he avoid the Sandy funding pitfalls? He's also about to launch some new agenda items. We're going to test all on his agenda, with one of his remaining White House counselors.

But first, let's get the story behind these pictures and get back to Anderson Cooper for the latest from Houston. Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Hey, Chris, thanks for being with us. Again, we are watching, waiting for an operation that's going on right now. The area that I'm in received a lot more water today. That's one of the things here, Chris. You know, the skies have been clear today. It hasn't been raining. I think a lot of people maybe who aren't here thought, oh, the worst has passed. But some neighborhoods, while the water is receding, other neighborhoods, the water actually has been rising. And that's the case here in this area tonight.

An elderly lady called her nephew just a short time ago, said she thought she could stick it out in her house. She and her husband, who's in his 90s, they watched the water start to rise. She called her nephew about half an hour ago and said, we need help. Rescuers who were done for the night, from the state, got back in their boats, they gone out to try to rescue that couple. We'll try to tell you what happens with them as soon as they get back.

But darkness has fallen. A lot of the rescue operations, you know, they stop at night. These waters are really deceptive. It can be incredibly shallow in some areas. You turn a corner and all of a sudden you're in 6, 7, 8 feet of water and the water is moving pretty fast.

The death toll here, obviously, is going to be rising. It's impossible to say at this point what the final toll will be. I talked to the sheriff of Harris County, Ed Gonzalez, earlier today. We were out on a boat together. And essentially he says, until the water dissipates, until the water is gone, they're not going to be able to do secondary checks in people's homes. They're really not going to be able to get a sense of what the recovery efforts really are needed.

And certainly as you've just been showing, Chris, Beaumont, Texas, east of here, Port Arthur Texas, east of here, that is where some major rescue operations have been going on throughout the day and even probably into the night. So, Chris, there's a lot to focus on over the next hour. I know you're going to be covering that. We'll check in with you shortly.

CUOMO: Absolutely. We need you there on the ground. We're going to have the producers talk with your team there and we're going to try to get some information on the location of a woman we're about to put on television. She needs rescue help in Port Arthur. One of the shelters there just had to be evacuated by the Red Cross because the water is coming into it, it's too high.

Anderson, thank you very much. We'll be back with you in just a minute.

Now, as we're talking right now, there's a woman named Julia Chatham, all right? She's trapped in her home in Port Arthur. Here's the situation. Julia joins us on the phone right now. Julia, can you hear us?

JULIA CHATAM, STRANDED IN PORT ARTHUR (via telephone): Yes, sir, I hear you.

CUOMO: All right. How are you holding up?

CHATAM: Man, baby, it's bad. It's bad over here. The water -- the water is getting bad over here and I'm scared this levee going to break and we going to be underwater. CUOMO: All right, well, look, you know the only thing that you can control right now is how calm you stay while you're waiting for the rescuers. What's the situation like in the house? Where is the water? What kind of food and drinkable water do you have?

CHATAM: Well, as of right now, all I have in my house is power. I have no food. I have no water. I only have power in my house. I don't have no way of getting around. I'm stuck upstairs.

[21:05:12] CUOMO: Now, who's there with you?

CHATAM: It's just me and my dog. And I'm upstairs with my other neighbors.

CUOMO: How many other people?

CHATAM: It's like five of us up here.

CUOMO: Is everybody --

CHATAM: But I don't know if they want to go. I know I'm ready to go.

CUOMO: Well --

CHATAM: I'm not --

CUOMO: Is everybody able to move under their own power. Is anybody in a wheelchair or bedridden?

CHATAM: Everybody can move on their own power. It's just me that needs to get out of here, because I have real bad anxiety attacks. And I don't know how to swim.

CUOMO: Well, we are looking at the water outside your building right now and it's pretty serious. I mean, it's certainly at a level --

CHATAM: Yes, it is.

CUOMO: -- where you'd have to be concerned.

CHATAM: Yes, with it is. And I don't know how to swim.

CUOMO: What is your address, Julia? How do we get people to you? Where are you?

CHATAM: My address is 1300 Joe Lewis Avenue, apartment 3003.

CUOMO: So let me make sure I have it right, 1300 Joe Lewis Avenue, apartment 3003 and you're in Port Arthur?

CHATAM: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: All right, ma'am, we will get the information to the first responders and to some of the concerned citizens that are out there, trying to make rescues. And please, try to keep it together and try to keep the people you're with calm. CHATAM: I'm calm for right now, because I got, you know, I'm saying, I got people around me, so I'm pretty calm right now, you know what I'm saying, because I've got people around me.

CUOMO: All right.

CHATAM: So I can't panic right now, but you know what I'm saying? I need y'all to get here soon, though.

CUOMO: We will do what we can. We have your number. I'll check back with you later tonight and we'll check with you tomorrow if somebody hasn't come yet, OK? Stay safe and God bless.

CHATAM: OK, I just hope that I still have power over here, because this is only way of me contacting y'all is on my house phone. Once these lines go out, I have no other way to contact nobody, so I'm going to be stuck.

CUOMO: No cell phone?

CHATAM: No cell phone. No cell phone, no other way of calling nobody. So if the lights go out, I'm screwed.

CUOMO: All right, Julia, let's hope that doesn't happen. And we will get the information --

CHATAM: I hope it don't either. And I hope nothing -- don't happen to my roof, stay the same. I just need to get out of here. Because I just watched the news and they're showing the water coming over that dam. I'm not playing with it.

CUOMO: No, I understand. Everything you're saying makes sense, sweetheart. Please stay calm and we'll try to get somebody to you.

CHATAM: Yes, sir. I'm trying -- I mean, yes, sir, I'm trying to stay as calm as I can. It's stressful right now. So I'm trying to remain calm.

CUOMO: We'll check back with you Julia. Thank you for talking with us. Stay safe.

CHATAM: Thank you, sir. Please send us some help, because we need it, badly.

CUOMO: OK, I know it's hard to hear these calls of people in distress. But it's important to get the word out. If you're watching right now and you're in a capacity to help, hit me on social media, hit me on Twitter, and I'll get you the phone number for you to contact Julia if you're in a position to help.

And otherwise, we just need that information to be out here. Why? Some like Julia are trapped in their homes and they've been there for days. And there are a lot like that. Some were table able to escape and they're now looking for loved ones that they got separated from. This is very common. Some people get taken one place, some people have to wait. Time is always of the essence. Now, we just spoke to somebody in this kind of situation. His name is Bradley Allen. He is desperately looking for his elderly father, Harrison Allen. Please, hear his message.

CUOMO: Bradley, can you hear us?


CUOMO: All right. I'm glad we got in contact with you. Tell us about the situation. You were taken to safety. That's the good news. The bad news is, you got separated from your father?

ALLEN: No, I was a out of town. Basically, I finally got into town. My dad was picked up and taken on a dump truck to an evacuation staging area with the coast guard and everything and it flooded up and almost got submerged, boats came to pick the people off the dump truck to the staging area, then Texas national guard took him somewhere from there. He doesn't have a phone, in this day and age, if people lose their cell phone, do you remember every number to call in an emergency? If you're 88 years old? You definitely don't.

CUOMO: No, totally understandable. We're showing a picture of your father right now. What's his name?

ALLEN: Harrison Allen.

CUOMO: And he's about what, 80, how old?

ALLEN: He's 88.

CUOMO: Eighty eight years old. We're showing his picture right now. Harrison Allen. And where was he the last time you were aware?

[21:10:00] ALLEN: The last time we were aware that we have verified is he was dropped off at 610 and Post Oak on the freeway above the flood waters.

CUOMO: OK. And so he was just dropped off on the road, because that was the safest site?

ALLEN: That was where the coast guard helicopters were landing and the boats were dropping people off and the police dump trucks were dropping people off to go back into the neighborhoods that were massively flooded, to be staged, to move to another location. We don't know where.

CUOMO: But do you know that people were being moved to other locations? That those plans were followed through?

ALLEN: We verified that, but we don't know where they took him.

CUOMO: And you've been trying to call shelters in the area and nobody has him?

ALLEN: We've called shelters. We've done face-to-face shelters. We went to the downtown convention center and walked around. Think about going to a football game or a baseball game. You're looking for one person --

CUOMO: Right.

ALLEN: -- and you need to see them all and 20 percent of them are laying down covered with a Red Cross blanket. How can you find this person that won't call, because they don't have any information? And there's thousands and thousands of people like that.

CUOMO: This is a nightmare. There's no question about it. And we keep hearing similar stories. The good news is, we also keep hearing about people getting reconnected. And we're putting it now on CNN. The picture of your father. You've said the location of where he was. If anybody has any information about this 88-year-old man, his name is Harrison Allen, doesn't have a cell phone. Please, come to us on social media. You know how to get me. Give us information if it's been there, so we can contact you. And get you in contact with his son, Bradley. Is there anything else we need to know? Any medical needs, any sensitivities?

ALLEN: No, he has heart issues. He's already had a heart operation. So I don't know if he has his medicine. I mean, when a flood comes, you try to save your life. So I have no idea what he has with him. Other than the picture we saw that he's standing in the dump truck in a black and white striped, like a referee shirt and black pants with a cap. And he looks like he's holding a plastic bag with something. Don't know if he still had that when he got off the dump truck.

CUOMO: All right, Bradley, keep your strength up, keep your spirits up. We're going to have the producer talk with you offline here and get any contact information for any of the national guards members you may have spoken to any points of contact we can go back to. We will be in touch, OK?

ALLEN: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: All right, Bradley, best of luck. Best of luck.


CUOMO: All right. We're going to take a break right now. Make some phone calls. We're going to take you back to Texas on the other side of the break. But we also have a bigger question to deal with tonight. The president has said the federal government will be there. Will Congress deliver for the Harvey-hit areas or will the petty politics that derailed Sandy funding be repeated? Kellyanne Conway says Trump can deliver. We're going to test that, next.


[21:16:50] CUOMO: All right, so President Trump says the federal government will be there for those hit by Harvey. Good. Good. That's the right message. But the space between saying and doing can get sticky. And this is no way to suggest that the president doesn't mean that. But remember what we saw with Superstorm Sandy. The current administration and GOP ranks are filled with folks who voted against relief funds, who arguably played politics with Sandy funding, and certainly delayed it.

So, this space, between saying and doing, is a recurring issue, for this president. So what is his plan? Senior counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, makes the case for how he can get this done and taxes and more.

Let's talk about delivering help after Harvey. The president says it is a top priority. Do you have a plan to avoid the politics that got in the way of the Sandy money?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We hope that everybody puts politics aside, to get help directly to the people in a speedy fashion. I mean, we know, Chris, after the devastating effects of a storm like Harvey, that the recovery, the rebuilding, the relief efforts, they go on infinitely, sometimes it feels like we don't know if it will be weeks, months, years. But this president and vice president and cabinet stand ready to assist those in need. Housing will be an issue for many people, who are displaced. Their houses are either uninhabitable or destroyed. We know that we've been trying to get food and water to people, over 2.5 million meals. Over 2 million liters of water, as of yesterday, and perhaps more today. Clothing, we know that non-governmental organizations are also helping a great deal. The media are helping to connect people with information. We're grateful for that. But in terms of the funding, we hope that Congress will focus on the president's priority, which is to connect with people in need with the money and the resources that they require to get immediate help, but also to help rebuild their lives.

CUOMO: That's why I ask about the plan. I get the intentions and it's the right intention, especially in this type of emergency situation. But, you know, the cabinet itself is filled with lawmakers who voted against that Sandy money. What will the president do if people play politics with Harvey the way they did with Sandy?

CONWAY: Chris, the president has also said he needs to rely on Congress. We hope it will be bipartisan in nature, so few things in this city have been since we arrived in January. We can't seem to get many Democrats at the table for big, meaningful initiatives and that's very disappointing. Can't have a conversation, let alone a vote on certain things. But we hope when it comes to relief, that the plan will include Democrats and Republicans voting to get that relief. It should also really focus on the task at hand, --

CUOMO: Right.

CONWAY: -- which is about Harvey and those in the affected areas. So Congress comes back. In the meantime, the president has provided the administration, frankly, is working to coordinate with our local and state officials and also the rest of the administration to access the resources and the capital that we need to provide folks with their immediate relief.

[21:20:04] CUOMO: So he's going to have to get the Republicans in line, because they're the ones that blocked the Sandy money last time, Ted Cruz, Ryan, and others. And he's going to have to rethink the FEMA money, isn't he? I mean, making cuts to FEMA and allocating money to the wall, what's the main priority? Harvey or the wall?

CONWAY: Well, Chris, that's not very fair. And I heard you three times in a row get the same sound bite out, so let me reply in kind.

CUOMO: It was the same question just to get a response that's all.

CUOMO: No, that's not fair. I'll answer your question twice. I'll do it a third time. But if you're going to talk about who voted for and against Hurricane Sandy, you have to be fair and reflect the full remarks of the people who say that they voted against what they wanted to vote for hurricane relief, but they voted against what they saw as a pork-laden bill that included many other things. One was for a car for an inspector general. Another was to revamp some building. But they -- this is about getting money to the people.

CUOMO: Right, but that just wasn't a valid premise.

CONWAY: Hold on. The president in the last two days was asked in different ways about money. And he has both times said he thinks it should be separate. In other words, he thinks that we really should focus on the task at hand here. And that's Democrats and Republicans --

CUOMO: He has said the right thing. I am in no way criticizing what the president has said --

CONWAY: -- will do the right thing. He will do the right thing.

CUOMO: I am not suggesting he won't. I am suggesting that he's got to get the GOP in line, because those senators who said it was pork laden like Ted Cruz were wrong. They were playing politics. And that's why Cruz had to change his position after getting three Pinocchios. It wasn't pork laden. Almost all of that money was Sandy related. Listen to Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, as we know. He said they were playing politics, it was cheap and it was wrong. So I'm asking, how does the president avoid that happening again?

CONWAY: So I answered that already. I think you're playing politics now with something like a tragedy and Harvey. I answered you question. The money will be there. We hope that Republican and Democrats will come together and not politicize it. We see a lot of politics being played. I think instead having the same conversation five different ways in the course of the first three four minutes of this interview, you could be putting up 1-800 numbers or websites or giving people information about pet rescues or diapers or meals --

CUOMO: We can do both.

CONWAY: You're not, though.


CUOMO: Actually we use social media --


CUOMO: What panel?

CONWAY: -- and put something up.


CONWAY: I'm saying if you could take two of the seats away from panel and put information up that people actually require.

CUOMO: Let's stick to the facts.

CONWAY: Yes, here's the fact. This president isn't just saying the right thing. He will do the right thing.

CUOMO: And I'm saying in order for him to do it, Congress has to come together. And we saw the intention with Sandy and they didn't get it done. Donald Trump, then citizen Trump, rightly criticized the Obama administration and Congress for not getting the money done for Sandy because they play politic politics. That's what I'm saying. You don't have to be defensive about the president. I'm not calling him out.

CONWAY: I'm not defensive at all.

CUOMO: I'm saying, how does he control the Congress.

CONWAY: I don't feel defensive at all except for the people in need. And my focus is on them.

CUOMO: And that's the urgency.

CONWAY: My focus is on the people who are affected now, --

CUOMO: That's right.

CONWAY: -- not something you want to politicize from five years ago.

CUOMO: But that's what happened.

CONWAY: My concerns are the women and the children and the families --

CUOMO: Right.

CONWAY: -- and the destroyed homes --

CUOMO: Of course.

CONWAY: -- and the people who are in a very different situation than they were in just a week ago.

CUOMO: Of course, and that's why Chris Christie is making the rounds on television saying in full-throated fashion, don't do it again. You took 60-something days to approve the money because you played politics and you wanted budget set offs and it wasn't a clean bill. Avoid those problems this time. That's all I'm saying. That's not disrespecting the survivors. That is respecting the survivors and making sure they don't get caught up in political mishigas (ph) like happened the last time. That's my point.


CUOMO: We agree? Shocking. All right. Let's move on to something else. One of the themes that's coming out of this, and it's not a discussion just to have now, but certainly in the weeks and months as we move forward, is whether or not what happened in Harvey and why it's happening and why these storms happen open up a discussion about the role of climate change. Is the president -- is the administration open to that conversation?

CONWAY: Chris, we're trying to help the people whose lives are literally underwater. And you want to have a conversation about climate change. I mean, that is -- I'm not going to engage in that right now, because I work for a president and a vice president and a country that is very focused on helping the millions of affected Texans and God forbid Louisiana, if it end up --

CUOMO: Imagine if we could find ways to reduce the number of these storms. Imagine if we could figure out why a hundred-year storm seems to happen every other year. And you have all these scientist saying climate change --


[21:25:01] CUOMO: It's a question about whether or not the administration is open. It seems the answer is no.

CONWAY: We'll assume -- no, I didn't say that, Chris, and you don't need to put words in my mouth.

CUOMO: Well, you berated me for asking the question and made it sound as if I weren't caring about the situation.


CUOMO: I think the cause of this storm matters.

CONWAY: -- I'm exposing the irony of the conversation. here's the deal, you play amateur climatologist tonight and I will play professional helper to those in need and continue in my job here as counselor to the president to help listen to the cabinet members, the president, the vice president, FEMA, DHS, and others, General Kelly, who could not be a better chief of staff equipped for a matter like Harvey because he was at DHS and is accustomed to large-scale operations and such.

And I will, and we're going to talk to the governors of the two states and the locally elected officials and the NGOs an non-governmental organizations, the faith-based groups, the volunteers on the ground, neighbor-to-neighbors, stranger-to-stranger rescuing each other. I'm going to focus on them for in the short-term, perhaps the long-term, because I literally see people, I see pregnant women, including on your channel, who are in need. Who say they're shivering or their kids are hungry or they're worried about their belongings or they had to leave their pets behind, can somebody rescue them. They haven't heard from an elderly relative. That's what I'm going to do.

CUOMO: Good.

CONWAY: That's what we're going to do here.

CUOMO: You should. But it doesn't mean that you do that to the exclusion of questions of why storms happen. At some point that could be part of the conversation. I asked about it, you gave an answer. We'll move on.

CONWAY: I'll come back to talk about that. I'll come back to talk about that. Right now I know that many Houstonians and those living in and around that city are either uninsured or underinsured. They're facing a lack of housing. They're exhausted, they're frustrated. They're worried about family members and friends they have not heard from. They're worried about elderly relatives that they have not seen. So we're going to look at the human factor for quite a while now.

Yes, if you want to talk about issues also in the news, we could talk about, oh, the president's play at historic tax reform today in Missouri, route 66, the heart of American manufacturing and America's gateway to the west at one point, where he has promised to simplify the tax code that we spend billions of hours and dollars trying to comply with it every year. You've got the stupid instruction page for the simple form is over 200 pages long. That's just the instruction page. We have 94 percent or so of Americans and 91 percent of small business owners either fill out that form themselves with software packages or pay someone else to help them do it. We're spending -- we're losing millions of jobs, it's costing us millions of jobs, trillions of dollars, and billions of hours.

CUOMO: Will the tax plan benefit the middle class, the working class?

CONWAY: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: Equally as it does the upper class?

CONWAY: It is a middle class tax cut.

CUOMO: What does that mean?

CONWAY: And also, we have to -- well, here's what it means. I'm glad you asked. This is basically like getting a pay raise for many middle class Americans, middle income earners, I should say. We are reducing their marginal rate, but we're also reducing the rate on small business owners and entrepreneurs, who are already suffering under the yolk of Obamacare, which, of course, was one of the biggest job killers and tax raisers in modern history. In addition to that regulation they've had to overcome, they are now taxed in a way that hurts their productivity and their ability to retract and retain the American workforce, expand their operations, survive and prosper. There are four major goals here. One is to do exactly that. Make our job creators more competitive around the globe. You know other countries saw how low our corporate tax rate was and how well we were doing for years and wised up to that and went and lowered our corporate tax rate and we increase our. These are the folks who are creating jobs, who are reinvesting --

CUOMO: But you know the corporate tax rate is different than when we're dealing with the working class, that's one point --


CONWAY: Excuse me, small business owners, though, are the forgotten man and forgotten woman.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

CONWAY: And what they can do -- I was a small business owner for 21 years ago before I took this job, Chris. What I would have done with that kind of reduction in rate, you reinvestment right back into the company, you hire another person or two, you buy better supplies and inventory. You move to a better facility.

CUOMO: There's no question you can incentivize them.

CONWAY: You can.

CUOMO: I'm just saying that the corporate tax rate, small business owners don't pay that, right, if they're in an LLC or S corp., or --

CONWAY: Right.

CUOMO: -- they're filing as individual, so the more you can do for their individual rate, the better. I'm saying, the corporate rate, you know, what it is nominally versus what it is effectively is a big difference. If you get rid of all of the loopholes, then you can play with the rate.

CONWAY: Correct.

CUOMO: But until you do that, you're doing nothing.

CONWAY: That's right. And thank you for mentioning that. Part of the simplification is going from this, you know, thousands of pages of nonsense and complying since the IRS is probably one of the biggest loch ness monsters here in the swamp, is getting the IRS off the yokes of many American taxpayers. Because they live in fear of not complying properly, so they spend all this money and all this time doing that. Simplifying also means getting rid of these loopholes and these stops to special interests and swamp dwellers. Because, frankly, the current tax codes benefits many of the wealthy, because they can afford attorneys and accountants and lobbyists to help them pay next to nothing or nothing in taxes.

[21:30:23] CUOMO: That's right.

CONWAY: So let's get rid of a lot of these loopholes and a lot of the special interest sops, if you will.

The other thing that we're going to do is make our country more competitive and also repatriate so many of these funds. We've got so much wealth parked in other countries because we have made it prohibitive, and companies are doing that legally.

You made it prohibitive for them to retain and reinvest their profits and their money into our own country. We want to bring back jobs, including manufacturing jobs and we want to bring back that wealth that's been parked in other countries.

You do that here and you couple that with what the president has already done, Chris, with respect to deregulation, what he's done in unleashing energy, the investments that he's making in infrastructure, wants to make in infrastructure, and other, I would hope, nonpartisan or bipartisan issue, we'll see. And then we're talking.

You've got the president today in Missouri, you've got Vice President Pence tonight in West Virginia at the Chamber of Commerce where he'll be joined by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. We hope he has his vote. He's joined by the new Republican governor, Governor Justice of West Virginia just a month ago --

CUOMO: It's an important discussion for both sides. We know that right now, we're in the phase of the president wanting to frame the debate and that the how will come later. And we'll assess it when it does.

Let me ask you about a couple of other things. One, what is going to happen with DACA? And we know we're waiting on that. And I ask you in a different context than normal.

One of the things we're seeing coming out of Harvey is they are not checking for documentation right now, because the exigency is on safety and just making sure as many people get help as possible. We have not heard the president criticize that move, that leniency right now, and I'm wondering if that plays into any of his philosophy about what to do with DACA, because these kids who then become adults in this country are a very vulnerable group. What's the thinking on it?

CONWAY: Well, a few things on DACA. The Congress had all year to act. A legislative fix or some clarity would be helpful. But on the matter of DACA, the president has expressed sympathy for many of the so-called dreamers, they refer to themselves as dreamers, and the -- he's also made very clear that he wants an immigration system that respects the law and that is fair, fair to everyone involved.

And let me just back up, because I think that Donald Trump, as a candidate, and now as president, took issues that really were mired in the low single digits in everybody's polling. Illegal immigration, trade, for example, and he talks about them in the lens of fairness, but fairness to all.

So for years, the big debate was, what's fair to the illegal immigrant? What more can we do for them or give to them? And Donald Trump said as a candidate, well, but what's fair to the American worker with whom they're competing for that particular job. What's --

CUOMO: But the data disputes that premise, by the way.

CONWAY: Chris, come on.

CUOMO: They're just not the jobs that Americans are looking for and doing. That's not what undocumented people are doing.

CONWAY: Excuse me, by the way, that is a very elite argument.

CUOMO: No, it isn't. How many people do you know that want jobs picking vegetables and cleaning homes?

CONWAY: By the way, many. Because I grew up -- excuse me. I grew up in the part of New -- you walked right into that.

CUOMO: I didn't walk into anything.

CONWAY: I grew up in the part of New Jersey that gives it the nickname the garden state and worked on a farm myself for eight summers. There are many Americans who will do what immigrants and American-born citizens have done for years.

CUOMO: Those aren't the jobs that the working class needs.

CONWAY: They do what they have to do to support themselves and their families.

CUOMO: Undocumented immigrants aren't what's keeping wages down. They're not what's taking the good jobs away from American workers. There's a reason that Mar-a-Lago has to go outside the country to get service workers.

You know, there's a demand for that kind of labor, right or wrong, it's existed for a long time. So the question becomes, how do you balance respect for the law and enforcement of that law?

And you have two very different opinions. You had Trump during the campaign who said, we're going to be a hammer, we're going to be a hammer, we're going to get them all out. And once he learned more about these people and how they manifest themselves in this country, especially the dreamers, he said, this is really hard, I've got to figure it out, they should rest easy. And I'm wondering where his head is now?

CONWAY: Well, that's what leaders do. Leaders listen to many different insights and inputs and contrasting opinions. The president surrounds himself with people of that nature.

But at the same time, I want to remind you, he has never backed down from the fact that this is a country, it's a nation, it's a sovereign nation that must have borders that are respected, and that we have spent billions of dollars over the years helping other nations protect their own borders. And many Americans agree with him that it's high time we respect our own. [21:35:12] I would mention a couple of other things, though. This president is very committed to workforce development and labor overall. He -- it's about two months ago, invested $100 million and directed his Secretary of Labor and others and he is working with governors. I sat in one meeting with Democratic and Republican governors and members of the cabinet where they talked about workforce development and they talked about what are the needs that job creators came here to do. What are the needs of our modern economy? What are the skill sets and the tools that are necessary? And we're listening to that.

And he's -- this apprenticeship program that he has put his full force and effect behind, as has Ivanka Trump and her capacity here as senior adviser, it's incredibly heartening because the folks that you -- some of the folks you grew up with in Queens, I grew up with in South Jersey, these are folks that don't go to college, but can graduate from high school or community college with a skills certificate and they can become carpenters, welders, plumbers, they're very vital important part of our economy, Chris. And they can support themselves and their families on day one.

CUOMO: The trades are real, there's no question about it. They need encouragement, just the way college does. And it also makes the point about what kinds of jobs are really needed and what the new threat of these new immigrants are.

We're out of time, Kellyanne, I appreciate the conversation. Thank you very much.

CONWAY: There's always the sequel for you and me. Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Good to know. You're always welcome here to talk about what matters. Be well and stay safe.

CONWAY: God bless.

CUOMO: All right, so, look, that is the political back and forth of this. You can judge the tactics for yourself, but the substance matters. That's a senior counselor to the president of the United States. What Kellyanne argues is what the president believes.

Now, up next, we're going to go back to Anderson Cooper in Houston. He is on the ground. He has all the breaking details. There are these stories of incredible Concerned Civilian Corps of volunteers out there getting it done for men and women they don't even know, but now we're all in it together.


[21:41:08] CUOMO: All right, I'm checking social media. Appreciate all the outreach and people getting back to us. We're exchanging information. Hopefully, we are going to have an update at the end of this hour on at least one of the people who are still out there.

All right, what else do we know? Tropical Storm Harvey, it's been downgraded to a tropical depression, but that has not diminished the danger and destruction. Anderson Cooper is on the ground, he joins us again with a member of Team Rubicon, an extraordinary organization, military veterans, volunteers.

Anderson, as you now know, they do so much so quickly on the ground to help reconnect people and infrastructure.

COOPER: Yes. We've seen them in Haiti, at a lot of different -- there are still folks from Team Rubicon working on the aftermath of Sandy in New York and New Jersey. I'm here with John Connors, no relation to the terminator, John Connors.

Tell me about Team Rubicon. What are you doing right now? What are the immediate needs? And then importantly, what you guys do, you focus a lot on long-term?

JONATHAN CONNORS, TEAM RUBICON: Right. So right now we have 36 people who are deployed in support of boat operations here.

COOPER: Volunteers, veterans.

CONNORS: Volunteers, yes, all volunteers. We are about 70 percent veterans, 30 percent civilian first responders. And right now, we have three boat teams who are doing rescue operations. Since Monday, they've rescued over 50 people. And they'll be doing boat ops until the community doesn't need it anymore.

And after that, we're setting up for as a longer term recovery effort where we'll stay here for months and probably deploy about 1,000 volunteers.

COOPER: How -- I mean, the boat operations, how organized are they at this point? Obviously, Team Rubicon is pretty -- is very organized, but in terms of coordinating with other units. You know, there's a group out here from the state, a maritime division, there's some volunteers over here. How do you -- do you coordinate?

CONNORS: So our team captains work with whoever is the lead organization in the area and they all coordinate which areas they're going to be working on. They pick out different zones to go to.

COOPER: And then long-term, what is -- what's the need?

CONNORS: So, we work with, you know, the local municipalities, the local agencies to determine where the need is long-term. We have recon teams going out right now to scour nearby areas to see what the long-term need will be. And we will decide where we will deploy people, how long they will stay here.

We are probably going to be here for several months. The devastation is tremendous, as you know.

COOPER: The work, I mean, from your organization, so many volunteers is incredible. It's

CONNORS: Correct, yes.

COOPER: All your money comes from?

CONNORS: All from donations, yes.

COOPER: You're not receiving any money from the government or things like that?

CONNOR: Correct.


CONNORS: Yes, thank you.

COOPERS: Thank you. Thanks to what all you're doing. Chris, back to you.

CUOMO: Anderson, thank you so much for bringing that. Such an important component of what's happening on the ground. Our thanks to Anderson, as always.

All right, so helping the flood victims. You saw what Team Rubicon is doing and there are others like you who are donating money. Some are bringing their own boats down there and rescuing.

But our next two guests, look at what they're doing.

VICTORIA WHITE, GOSPEL SINGER: Your glory, saving us --

CUOMO: Well, they don't lost their homes, but they gained a gift of wanting to help others. You have to hear and what is see -- and what to see and hear what's happening in these shelters when they come there, next.


[21:48:24] CUOMO: All right, the need is great in Texas, and increasingly, on all these different parts of the Gulf Coast. Food, shelter, clothes, consolation.

Now, the last of those may not pop to your mind, but I have to tell you, can make a big difference. One of the best ways to console and feed the spirit, listen for it. It's like this.

WHITE: We want to see --

CUOMO: Listen to that voice. That's gospel singer, Victoria White, backed up by our very friend, Marquist Taylor and several others, singing of pain and the power that gets you through. Gospel in all its glory, for the evacuees at the shelter. It's making a big difference. It just is. You're going to see it for yourself.

Now, these people who are singing, their homes are OK. But they still wanted to get out and go to the shelters and video of their visits quickly went viral. And they're not going to stop. They're going to go to even more shelters. They're going to lend their smiles and their spirit and the gift of their beautiful voices.

I know that the news about Harvey can bring you down. It is raw, but it's also real. And so is this aspect.

So why talk about these good people when we can talk to them. We got Victoria and Marquist on the show. And I wanted to know, what do they see in the eyes of the people that they're singing for.


WHITE: What do I see in their eyes? You know, when we first walked in the door, you may see a little bit of despair, some hopelessness, but by the time we leave, we're seeing tons of joy, hope, and love.

CUOMO: Beautiful. And Marquist, what do you feel in your heart? What is motivating you to do this?

[21:50:03] MARQUIST TAYLOR, VICE PRESIDENT, OTHERS OUTREACH MISSIONS: Oh, man, I'm moved by the -- you can see the (INAUDIBLE) on their faces. I'm moved by the fact that they lost everything and some of them are trying to still crack a smile. So, it makes me more passionate. It makes me want to go out and help as much as I can. Just exhaust myself, you know, to no end.

CUOMO: And when I'm listening and I'm watching the video, I can see that you really are putting everything into it. And I know that gospel comes from the heart. But it seems like --

TAYLOR: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: -- you're making special effort for these people. What do they mean to you Marquist?

TAYLOR: To be honest with you, people are everything. I'm a Christian so we have a duty. We have an assignment to love people every day no matter what their color is, their background, their race, what they driven. So I love people, I have a passion for people and so that's what drives me. It motivates me. And I'm going to continue to do that until the day that I die. Love people, simple.

CUOMO: It is simple, and it's as beautiful as it is simple and it is as needed as it is simple. If you are moved by the spirit and you have the gift, which you two both clearly do. Victoria, I've seen the video, I love it, but you know what, it's not enough. It's not enough. I need more. I need more. It is still too dark out there, it is still too gray, there still too much unknown, we must feed the hope, give me something, give me something. What do you have for me?

WHITE: OK, I can do a little bit of "King of my heart". Definitely great thing --

CUOMOR: Whatever you feel.

WHITE: -- and it says -- OK.

Let the king of my heart be the mountain where I run. The fountain I drink from, oh, he is my song. And let the king of my heart be the shadow where I hide. The ransom for my life, oh, he is my song.

CUOMO: Beautiful, I give you an amen for that. Look at the people behind you. Marquist --

WHITE: Amen, amen.

CUOMO: Marquist, add to it, add to it, give me something. This is good, let's keep it going.

TAYLOR: OK, you want something?

CUOMO: I want it.

TAYLOR: OK, OK, I have something.

Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other. Our God is a healer, He's awesome in power. Our God! Yes, our God!

CUOMO: Beautiful.

TAYLOR: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Beautiful. Listen to them behind you. People need food for their bellies, they need hope for their heads, and they need to be fed in their spirit as well. Thank you so much for the gift. I can tell you, --

TAYLOR: Thank you for having us.

CUOMO: -- having been in situations like that before it means more than even you know. Thank you for using your gift to help these people in deed.

WHITE: Absolutely.

TAYLOR: Absolutely.

CUOMO: You made me sweat.

TAYLOR: Absolutely.

CUOMO: You made me sweat.

TAYLOR: Awesome.

CUOMO: Thank you so much.

TAYLOR: Thank you for having us.

CUOMO: Be well and God bless. Thank you.


CUOMO: All right, you know what, it can't be heavy all the time. It matters for the people in those shelters to have something that feed their spirit as well as their bellies. And to feed their sense that everything is going to be all right. So, why are we working social media? At the top of the show, we spoke with a man who is searching for his father. Coming up, we have an important update for you on some of the leads that we have. Stay with us.


[21:57:39] CUOMO: All right, two big updates. You're ready? Last night we spoke to Dawn Coles, who exercised some serious mommy strength to swim about a mile to safety holding her three-year-old kid and some of their belongings. She's safe and sound.

Last night, she told us she had to leave her dog Coco behind. Do you remember? Guess what? Coco is safe.

Some of Dawn's friends found her and brought her to the hotel where Dawn and her family are staying. Good news, right?

And how about this, we have something even better. We just got word that Bradley Allen has found his father. It happened since we've been on the air and since we brought you this story.

His father Harrison had been left on the road by first responders which is what they're suppose to do and he was suppose to make it to a shelter, Bradley lost track of him. But he located his father at a hotel near Lakewood church, that's the Osteen Church, it's been its own source of controversy.

But he's now on the way to pick up his pop. Harrison Allen had been missing for two and a half days. Imagine that your 88-year-old father, you don't know where he is, he doesn't have a cell phone, he doesn't remember his numbers. But now, we have a happy ending.

And it happened because of you. We got this information going on social media. I know I go after Twitter a lot but this work tonight. So let's try to work for some others, more happy endings.

Remember, we are all in it together. And I know that you want to help and that is a beautiful gesture and you can make it an action. You can go to You can make all different types of donations.

Remember how great the need is. I know that the storm has been downgraded, that's good, but the flooding according to the governor and every expert you can ask says they haven't seen the worst of it yet, it's going to crest. What does that mean?

People are going to be displaced for a long time. They're going to need food, they're going to need clothing, they're going to need toys, diapers. All the essentials that you see when you look at your own life. So please get involved.

Our website will help. We'll all be in it together. You can say it enough. Thanks for watching, "CNN Tonight" starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And of course we begin with the breaking news. And I want to show you two faces. Let's put them up right now, these two beautiful children. Look at them. They can't find their parents right now, they can't find their father.

They're just one, they're two of the people across the flood zone in desperate need of help tonight.