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Hurricane Irma's Path; Trump Sides With Democrats on Debt Ceiling; Trump's Mixed Messages on DACA. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired September 6, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a new and seems-to-be-record-breaking hurricane heading right toward Florida and Puerto Rico and other places. We will see what happens. We will know in a very short period of time, but it looks like it could be something that will be not good.
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BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We have our reporters fanned out across the affected region in Cuba, in Miami, also in Puerto Rico.
KEILAR: Now, Puerto Rico is under a state of emergency right now. There is a mandatory evacuation in the Florida Keys.
George Howell is in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for us. Miguel Marquez is in Miami.
I want to go to you first, George.
It has been nearly a century since Puerto Rico was hit by a storm of this magnitude. So, tell us about the conditions, and I know you said we're looking towards, I think, the 8:00 p.m. hour. How have things fared here since we talked to you an hour ago?
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.
So, the conditions here will get worse and worse and worse each hour that we reconnect here to show you what's happening. And I want to give you a look at the land here to see.
You can see there the whitecaps. That is an indication of how choppy, how rough the waters are right now and the palm trees tell the story as well. However, we're kind of in between, if you will believe this or not, in between the stronger wind gusts.
Let's break this storm down into the different phases that we expect when it comes to the winds, when it comes to the rain, the flooding, and then the aftermath. With regards to the wind, I spoke with a meteorologist here with the National Weather Service, Felix Castro, who said the island experienced about an hour ago an 86-mile-per-hour wind gust.
Keep in mind that the eye wall of this storm much closer to Puerto Rico than earlier expected, so now about 30 miles off the north shore, so we will be closer to that more intense churning, the wind gusts that get anywhere from 185 miles up to 200-plus.
We could experience a little more of that here on the southern side of this storm. When it comes to the rain, the rain comes and goes. But we have seen some strong rain bands come in. We're expecting much stronger rain as the night progresses.
With flooding, I'm told that the storm surge could be anywhere from two to three feet, but here's the thing. The storm swell could get anywhere from 25 to 30 feet, could go up to two to three stories of water that comes in at any point here along the part of the island that's affected.
And the aftermath, there's context here. You have to keep in mind that Puerto Rico is an island that's dealing with a great deal of debt, a debt crisis, $70 billion in debt, goods and services more expensive as of 2015 for locals here.
They're concerned about what it looks like to recover. Again, 8:00 p.m. is when things get a lot rougher. The monster that lurks in the dark will get more intense at that hour.
KEILAR: All right, George, thank you.
And I want to go to Miami now.
That's where Miguel Marquez is.
Miguel, you are at a gas station. Right? What are you seeing?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, two things.
Gas and water are in very short supply today, and I think water might be a little more expensive than gas right now...
MARQUEZ: ... because, everywhere we have gone, the city seems to have run out of it.
I want to show you, this is a typical gas station, Shell station here in US-1. You can see on the in the right lane all those cars, all the way back. It's dozens and dozens and dozens of cars. They're not waiting to turn right. They're waiting to get into this gas station here and fill up.
If you come around this way, Jordan, you can see this is what happens here at the intersection. They're also waiting in this line to get into the same gas station. We have reports that people are waiting as long as two hours to get gas, not at this one, but at different gas stations around places.
Other gas stations are just out of gas for right now. The street -- across the street -- this is US-1 -- all this traffic coming up on the other side of the street that we're next to here, that's coming from the south to the north, people getting out of the Keys.
We saw some video earlier in the day of people getting out of the Keys. It was one-way traffic, every single car going north, no one going south. We expect, as the storm gets closer, that traffic going that way will get only heavier -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Well, let's hope.
All right, Miguel Marquez in Miami, thank you, sir.
One person who is in the eye of this storm willingly is Mike Theiss. He is a hurricane chaser.
And, Mike, you have chased down 40 hurricanes in the past 30 years, so for the people who are at home and may be undecided about whether they're going to evacuate, you're looking at this historically powerful storm. What are you expecting to endure?
MIKE THEISS, HURRICANE CHASER: Well, if we take a direct hit in the Keys, it will be catastrophic.
I mean, you do not want to be here with a direct hit. And right now, there's a lot of models that show that. There's a lot of models that show up the east coast, up the west coast, right up the Keys, so you need to assume the worst.
You do not want to be stuck here with this kind of a storm coming over the Keys. It will be catastrophic.
KEILAR: When you say catastrophic, I mean, speak to the specifics of that. What would that look like in a place like the Keys?
THEISS: Well, if that ring of thunderstorms, which is the intense eye wall, goes right over the Keys, the wind will come off one side of the ocean, go across the island, right to the other, and it will just clean things off.
I mean, it will be really bad. Anything that's not concrete will probably be destroyed, and even concrete structures are going to be extremely compromised with that kind of wind.
I mean, this is a kind of wind that we don't even -- we don't have anything to compare it to hardly at all in recent era of what kind of damage it can cause. So this is equivalent to an EF-3 tornado.
It's like being in a tornado for two to three hours if you're in that intense eye wall. So this is nothing to mess around with at all.
KEILAR: So how are you going to handle this?
THEISS: Well, I'm sort of -- I'm watching every update that comes out, and the track keeps shifting to a point where I haven't locked in a location just yet, but it's going to be anywhere from Key Largo, Key West, or just go right up the East Coast of Florida if it happens to come in up there.
Of course, if it shifts to the west, and goes up the west coast, I will be going there. So, this is a really rough one. Normally, I have a location pinned down much sooner, but because of the angle that it's coming in, this is a -- we're entering the world of unknown. All we know is it's coming this direction, and eventually it's going to turn north.
But the question is, when is that going to happen? We need to be prepared. Wherever you live, you need to assume that it's going to hit you if you're in that cone. If you're in the National Hurricane Center cone, don't pay attention to that center line, just the cone area. If you're in that area, anything's possible.
KEILAR: Pay attention to that wide swathe. Very good advice.
Mike Theiss, thank you so much, sir.
We are going to be back to storm coverage in just a moment, but we must go now to breaking news from the White House.
President Trump is going against his own party leaders. He's siding with the Democrats over the debt ceiling. He just told reporters that he -- quote -- "essentially reached an agreement" with congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling, provide disaster relief funding, and pass a short-term spending bill.
Here's audio of what he said moments ago.
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TRUMP: We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We agreed to a three-month extension on debt ceiling, which they consider to be sacred, very important, always will agree on debt ceiling automatically because of the importance of it.
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KEILAR: The deal would include a three-month extension on the debt ceiling. It's the very thing that House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke against this morning.
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REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have got all this devastation in Texas. We have got another unprecedented hurricane hitting -- about to hit Florida. And they want to play politics with the debt ceiling? That will strand the aid that we need to bring to these victims of these storms that have occurred or are about to occur. And then they also want to threat default on our debt? I think that's ridiculous and disgraceful that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Let's talk about this now with CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, David Catanese -- he's senior politics writer for "U.S. News & World Report" -- and CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
OK, Jeff, how did this play out? Like, do we have any sense of whether Republicans in Congress were given the heads-up or were they just completely blindsided? Because you have Paul Ryan saying what he said and then, it's a few hours later, it turns out, oh, actually, no, there's a deal, and it doesn't include you.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Blindsided.
I'm told by three Republican officials at the White House and on Capitol Hill the Republican leaders were absolutely taken aback by this. They were undercut, and not only them. The treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, was arguing for a longer-term deal, and he was given them assurance they wanted a longer-term deal.
The president, apparently, I'm told by people familiar with the meeting, said, we're done talking about this. And one person said the president was in deal-cutting mode. So he simply wanted to get that done.
And Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, confirmed that basically when he came to the cameras on Capitol Hill just a short time ago and said, you know, the president reached a deal with Democrats, basically.
So I believe that this is, you know, one of the most fascinating and mysterious and interesting things the president has done in office so far with the Congress.
KEILAR: OK, so David, deal-cutting, but is it a good deal?
DAVID CATANESE, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Well, it's a good deal for him because he wants a win. He wants a deliverable in the near- term.
And I think he started to see conversations from Republicans, conservative Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus saying that they were going to have a fight that they didn't want, they were going to have a fight over the debt ceiling.
And he saw Pelosi and Schumer, oddly enough, as allies. And I just think it means that Trump is an essential deal-maker, but is married to no political parties. He's a man on his own island, and I think this also goes back to the health care debate, where he didn't feel like the Republicans came through for him. I don't think there's real trust between him and Mitch McConnell or
Paul Ryan, so he said, hey, maybe I can get something on the other side here.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, he just spent half the summer dissing Mitch McConnell, right, on Twitter.
KEILAR: Oh, yes.
BORGER: And now he's done the same to Republicans who didn't want this deal.
And so, if you're a Republican, and you're saying, well, will this guy have my back if I go out on a limb for him, the answer would be no. So, the question -- this will impact tax reform, I believe, going down the road. And also it means that they have to vote yet again on extending the debt ceiling.
KEILAR: In a few months.
BORGER: And what do Republicans and Democrats, for that matter, but what do they hate to vote on the most, which is the debt ceiling. It's not an easy vote for conservatives.
KEILAR: You guys actually -- sorry to interrupt, Gloria. Stand by, because Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, is talking right now about the hurricane. Let's listen.
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GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: And waivers truck weight restrictions and driver hours are helping to move fuel so we can get to it you very quickly.
We're doing all we can to streamline fuel delivery, but you may see lines and, yes, even some outages. In the Keys, we're doing everything possible to get gas to everyone as quickly as possible.
But we're going to do everything we can to get everybody out of the Keys. If there's an evacuation, we will do everything we can to get people out.
We're looking at all possible avenues to ensure everyone gets out. For everyone across the state, if you go to shelter in your county, please take only enough fuel that you need. If you don't need to fill your tank to the brim because you're going to stay in your county, don't fill it up.
I spoke to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao today, and she's been very supportive. The federal DOT has lifted federal regulations of fuel to get gas to Florida as quickly as possible.
All of our ports are open and operating to bring fuel and supplies in. Evacuations. Right now, there is a mandatory evacuation in effect for
all visitors in the Florida Keys. Tonight,this order will go into effect for all residents. We estimate that about 25,000 people have already evacuated from the Keys.
Listen to your local officials for evacuation orders. They will tell you if and when your area needs to be evacuated. So, listen to the locals. If you're told to evacuate, don't wait. Get out quickly.
If you look at what happens is, if you wait, that's when we end up with the lines on the highways. When local officials tell you to evacuate, they do so because it's not safe to stay. We can expect additional evacuations in the storm continues so near to our state.
Everyone must listen to their local officials. Individuals with special needs started being evacuated from Miami this morning. And Miami-Dade County officials are also advising residents living in low- lying areas to start evacuating today.
There are volunteer evacuations being ordered in Collier County. Broward County has issued voluntary evacuations of mobile homes and low-lying areas today.
I cannot stress this enough. Do not ignore evacuation orders. Remember, we can rebuild your home, but we cannot rebuild your life.
Real-time traffic information on evacuation routes is available at WWW.FL511.com.
At my direction, all tolls have been waived across Florida roadways. This should help families evacuate quickly and safely. We are preparing for Irma to directly impact our state. And while it's still too early to tell exactly where the storm will go, it is incredibly important that all Floridians keep an eye on this incredibly dangerous storm.
Do not sit and wait for this storm to come. It is extremely dangerous and deadly and will cause devastation. Get prepared now.
Regarding the Florida National Guard, I just activated an additional 900 members of the Florida National Guard. By the end of the day, there will be a total of 1,000 Guard members to immediately begin assisting with ongoing Hurricane Irma preparation.
The Florida National Guard is incredibly important to executing an emergency preparedness and response actions across the state. And I will continue to activate more members as needed.
These members will be in place to help with evacuations and shelters, sheltering, as well as coordination of search-and-rescue with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
National Guard members will also be assisting utility companies following the storm as they respond to return power to homes and businesses. I have directed the remaining 6,000 available members of the Florida
National Guard to report for duty no later than Friday morning. In addition, 13 helicopters, more than 1,000 tactical high-water vehicles are on standby.
The Florida National Guard is coordinating with other states and the National Guard Bureau to ensure approximately 30,000 troops, 4,000 trucks, 100 helicopters, and air evacuation crews are ready to support our state. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation is preparing search-and-rescue teams for potential deployment.
FWC has more than 200 officers standing by for the first wave of response based on potential storm impacts. Thirty teams with supporting resources such as trucks, coastal and river patrol boats, ATV and shallow draft boats are preparing for evacuations or search- and-rescue missions or any additional needs.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, FWC, the Department of Highway and Safety, and other partnering agencies are identifying resources for deployment and response. The Florida Highway Patrol is monitoring road and traffic conditions to ensure roadways are clear.
FDLE has established 18 emergency response teams for deployment to impacted areas and seven logistics and planning teams. Each FDLE region is staffing its regional law enforcement coordination team in advance of this storm to assist local law enforcement with any needs.
KEILAR: All right, that is Governor Rick Scott of Florida as we are looking really down the barrel of Hurricane Irma coming towards potentially all the way up the East Coast of his state. He said the Highway Patrol is keeping the roads clear. He's urging people in the past of this storm to evacuate.
We have another update coming from the National Hurricane Center here around 5:00 p.m., and we will bring that to you as well.
We are going to go back to our breaking news on President Trump reaching a deal with Democrats.
We're also learning that Ivanka Trump came into that Oval Office meeting, one source saying that Republican leaders were visibly annoyed. We're going to talk about that after a quick break.
KEILAR: We are back now with some very intriguing breaking news coming out of the White House.
Donald Trump has sided with Democrats when it comes to increasing the debt ceiling. He had a meeting with congressional leaders, and I have a picture that we just have to show you. This is of the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer there, talking to the president. And coming out of this meeting, Schumer much more happy than the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell. You can definitely be sure of that, but just take a look at their faces here, very happy with this agreement that has the president bucking his own party and siding with Democrats.
I want to bring my panel back in to talk about this.
All right, Gloria, I mean, here you have got this New York meeting of the minds going on there.
BORGER: Well, what were the faces of the Republicans that we didn't see? Because I guarantee you...
KEILAR: Probably sullen, right?
BORGER: Sullen, because this was a deal, as Senator Ben Sasse, called it, the Pelosi/Schumer/Trump deal.
And as we know from our reporting, that there were people pushing an 18-month debt limit, others who were floating six months, but it was the Democrats who were floating three months. And the president just made a unilateral decision, as he can do, to say, OK, I'm going to take the deal that Chuck Schumer offered.
And I think the Republicans were beyond annoyed.
KEILAR: What's the matter with this, David, though, if he's just -- even if he is just kicking the can down the road for three months, what's the matter with not having this fight right now and putting it off?
We have seen Congress have smaller extensions on whether it's the debt ceiling or it's government funding. We have seen these thing.
CATANESE: Well, the argument against is they are going to have to go through all of this again in December, right around the holidays, a nice holiday present for the GOP, which has sort of become an annual event with the Republicans.
But a White House aide just e-mailed me and said, look, there's too many important things on the agenda. Republicans will pass another debt ceiling. When push comes to shove, they want tax reform, and also, a short-term deal allows funding for what you're covering today, another catastrophic hurricane that is going to pulverize this country.
And we just saw the last week what the people of Texas and Louisiana are going through. The White House is arguing, get this off the table, keeps the government open, so we have funding for victims of Hurricane Irma. That's going to be their case.
ZELENY: I think this is very much, you know, perhaps the biggest example yet of on-the-job learning as president. Presidents, like every other job, learn on the job. And the president
has power. The president does not have to outsource everything to the House or Senate. He can sort of make things happen. I think that's an example of this here.
Look, but I think -- I'm told the president was affected by what he saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. We obviously see what's happening in Florida. Some of his personal properties are involved in this. He knows what's going on. He does not want Washington sort of to be at each other's throats over this.
Now, the question is, it probably will come in December, but he does have, you know, more leverage here. But I think this is a sign that he's -- it's what some Republicans and conservatives worried about, that picture of Senator Schumer and the president.
ZELENY: At the very beginning in January, this seems like a million years ago, conservatives thought he's going cut a deal with Schumer on infrastructure. That, of course, didn't happen.
And this may be a one-off. This may be a one-off. Even some Democrats are suspicious about sort of all of this, but certainly very interesting.
KEILAR: Some other intrigue in this meeting, Gloria. Ivanka Trump walks into the meeting, takes part in the meeting, and CNN has some reporting that Republicans seemed to be dismayed by her presence there.
What is going on here?
BORGER: Well, and there is some pushback on that, as Jeff is also reporting.
Look, I think Republicans were dismayed by what was occurring in the meeting, and so they may have acted like they were dismayed by Ivanka. We don't really know the whole story yet about whether she -- she was in the meeting, apparently, to talk about child care, tax credits, et cetera, et cetera.
And she may have provided some relief to Republicans who didn't like what was going on.
CATANESE: I think there's also a question, just among Republicans, on how much juice Ivanka has. There's all this palace intrigue, constantly, about how much influence she has over the president, right? She's the most powerful adviser in the White House.
But when push comes to shove, she doesn't land on the same side as the president on a lot of these issues, and I think that's a constant conversation, I think, a Washington conversation about is she just in the room as a symbol, or does she really have some pull and influence over the president? ZELENY: We know that she is very committed to this issue that she was in there to talk to leaders about, and this is the first time -- we are in September -- the first time that these four leaders have sat down at the White House with the president. That's sort of unusual.
But I'm told as a fuller picture of this comes together, as Gloria was saying earlier, Republicans were annoyed in general. I'm told that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was a bit more annoyed by Ivanka Trump perhaps, but by the whole picture. Speaker Ryan has said in a statement he was not annoyed by her at all.
KEILAR: All right, very good point.
All right, Jeff Zeleny, David Catanese, Gloria Borger, thank you to all of you.
Next: President Trump says that he's ending the dreamer program, which protects undocumented young people brought to the U.S. by their parents who really know no other country other than America. Then he tweets that he might revisit this decision. Then today, he insists he's not sending mixed messages.
One of the state attorneys general who threatened to sue over that Obama era program is going to join me live.