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Trump Jr. Meeting Before Senate; Trump Crosses Party Lines; Review of Title IX Guidance; Irma Expected to Hit Florida Tomorrow; Devos Announces Review; Interview with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA). Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 8, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, so, of course, we're tracking the latest on Hurricane Irma. But we also want to update you on some other big stories today. CNN has learned, in terms of the Russia investigation, the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, is looking for more information about the aftermath of that Don Trump Jr. meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer. Democrats have more questions also after Don Jr. spent six hours testifying behind closed doors with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Joining us now to talk about this and more is Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier. She's a member of a House Intel Committee and Armed Services Committees.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for being here.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: It's great to be with you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. So Don Trump Jr. met with investigators in the Senate Judiciary Committee about this meeting that he had agreed to during the campaign with this Russian lawyer and why he would agree to meet with the Russians. He had previously said, and e-mails show, that he thought it was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

So he put out in his prepared statement that "The New York Times" got ahold of. I'll read a portion of it for you and our viewers.

To the extent that they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out.

What do you think of what was learned yesterday?

SPEIER: Well, I think we still have more questions to be asked. And, you know, for the longest time we didn't even know that this meeting took place. This was the first concrete evidence that's been made public that there was an attempt at collusion or coordination, and that there was a willingness on the part of the Trump campaign and part of his inner circle, his son, to work with the Russians to get, quote, dirt, on Hillary Clinton.

So this is just the beginning of that potential investigation. That was one meeting. We don't know how many other meetings took place.

CAMEROTA: Look, we hear so many people say, when is this going to be wrapped up? You know, when is this going to be over? How close do you think you are to reaching some conclusion?

SPEIER: You know, I think we're maybe 40 percent along. I think we still have a long way to go.

[08:35:01] But, you know, everyone's tired of Russia. We're tired of Russia. But let's be really clear, this was a war conducted by Russia on a number of platforms, not just the hacking, but using FaceBook and buying $100,000 worth of ads and creating some 470 FaceBook pages. It also was troll farm that were conducted out of St. Petersburg, where they were using every imaginable means they had at their disposing to undermine our democracy.

And wars are about undermining our democracy. And this is an example of what Russia has done consistently and more dramatically in the 2016 election. And finally, probably the most critical issue that we have to deal with is, to what extent they hacked in to our election systems. And I have grave concerns about their ability to get in.

CAMEROTA: That's quite concerning. OK, so you'll let us know when you have updates on that.

We do want to move on to other news because I want to ask what you think about this new-found friendship or this spirit of bipartisanship that we've seen break out between President Trump and Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi about things like the Hurricane Harvey relief, the debt ceiling, DACA. What's going on?

SPEIER: It's a beautifully thing to watch, isn't it? I think the American people are thirsty for bipartisanship and I think everyone's got to take their armor off and start finding ways to deliver for the American people. As tragic as these hurricanes have been, they've been a sobering expression of how important it is for us to come together and work together for solutions for the American people.

CAMEROTA: And, I mean, but do you think that this is the harbinger of something to come? Or do you think -- I mean what do you think the play is here politically?

SPEIER: Well, you know, so much of what Washington is, is transactional. And right now the president sees that it's in his best interest to work with the Democrats to get an extension on the debt limit and to move forward on support for those who have been victims of Hurricane Harvey and now Irma. So I think he's becoming a little more pragmatic and, frankly, becoming a little more presidential in his ability to recognize that you don't get anything done around here unless you can find ways to work with both sides.

CAMEROTA: OK. Another topic that I really want to get to before you leave. You chair the task force to end sexual violence, meaning campus sexual assault, et cetera. And secretary of education, Betsy Devos, just announced that she's going to revisit and examine some of the protections that were put into place by President Obama to try to stop these things. What do you make of that? What do you think she's looking at?

SPEIER: I actually think that it's code to undermine the efforts that we have been so successful at moving forward to protect young people who are college coeds at colleges. Twenty percent of them are going to either be assaulted or an attempted sexual assault is made on them. And that guidance that was put into effect under the Obama administration required universities to do a number of things, once of which was transparency so that everyone could see what university is being under investigation, and what university is actually resolved their issues with the office of civil rights.

Only two to 8 percent of those who report are making false reports. She is now trying to suggest that there is some major reversal of what we know to be true. And these victims are victimized, not just once, but oftentimes two and three times because they then have to go through an investigation, recall what happened to them.

It is not a Republican or Democratic issue. Frankly, you know, the first thing that I heard when I took my daughter to college in terms of orientation, the very first question was, is my daughter going to be safe. That's what I heard from parents, whether they were Republicans or Democrats. They want to make sure that these institutions of higher learning are presenting safe environments for their kids to learn.

CAMEROTA: That is really striking that that's the first question that parents ask at orientation, because now people are so aware that this is a dangerous on campuses.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

SPEIER: My pleasure. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK. So there is another breaking story that we want to update you on right now. There's a powerful 8.1 magnitude earthquake centered off the coast of Mexico. It has killed at least 16 people. This quake collapsing a hotel and damaging homes in Mexico and Guatemala. Mexico's president calls this the strongest earthquake in 100 years. This earthquake rattled Mexico City. That's 600 miles away from its epicenter.

So, obviously, we'll keep an eye on that, Chris, as well as we get more of the aftershocks and learn what the damage is there.

[08:40:02] Back to you.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Alisyn, thank you very much.

The FEMA administrator underling a point that you've been hearing us make throughout the morning. The question is no longer if this storm is going to hit. I wish it were. But it's just about when and how Irma will strike Florida. How bad is it going to be? We have the latest on the evacuation efforts and the realities next.


CUOMO: The urgency about Irma is real. You're hearing about it from the local, all the way up to the federal level of government. The president just tweeting about the dangers of this hurricane. Take a look at it for yourself. Hurricane Irma is of epic proportion. Perhaps bigger than we have ever seen. Be safe. Get out of its way, if possible. Federal government is ready.

He went on to say, our incredible U.S. Coast Guard saved more than 15,000 lives last week with Harvey. Irma could be even tougher. We love our Coast Guard.

[08:45:08] Well, I'm sure everybody joins the president in that sentiment. Our first responders are the best among us. Literally angels on earth.

But, the point is about giving them the least work to do.

Joining us now is Dr. Dan Zieg. He is the mayor of Marathon. That's a city in the Florida Keys.

Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us. God bless and be safe during this storm.

What is the situation where you are?

DR. DAN ZIEG (R), MAYOR, MARATHON, FLORIDA: Chris, we've been working for days, working hand in hand with the county and our state government in order to try to make our residents safe. We have put shutters, we've taken all the precautions we possibly can and we keep urging people, please evacuate. Take the drive and stay alive.

And now it's just a matter of fine tuning and meeting with our emergency operations center personnel and doing the last few adjustments and then wait so see how much surge. This is a huge deadly storm. I don't think any of us have ever seen anything like this. And we just don't know right now what to expect. If it continues on its current track, we're expecting 10 feet of water surge here in Marathon. That will be devastating.

CUOMO: Boy, weaponized water. That's the phrase that I keep hearing from the first responders about what that storm surge can do. And people just have to look at the British Virgin Islands. You know, lives have been lost. We're seeing it now over Cuba. So the reality is real in The Keys.

What have you seen in terms of the attention to evacuations? Do you think most of the people got out? Where are you in terms of who's left behind?

ZIEG: I think most people have heeded the warnings and have left. We continue to go out today. But everyone down here realizes what this storm could do after seeing the devastation in the Caribbean. There's no question that we continue to get the message out. And we've asked bilingual deputies, those who many of our neighborhoods, and explain in Spanish and English, please, take the drive and stay alive.

CUOMO: Look, it's a catchy phrase and it's a very instructive one right now. Face the drive. Obviously that refers to the maddening traffic, trying to get to parts north, but it's worth it too, as you complete the line, stay alive.

What do you make of this science reality about the dirty side of the storm, which as we've learned, because of the counterclockwise force of the winds, that there's an outer edge that will probably hit The Keys, may hit Miami and South Beach, that is actually stronger than the front side. And most storms, maybe not with Irma, we'll have to see because of the size, but your concerns about being on the dirty side of the storm?

ZIEG: Yes. It's a very good point. The dirty side of the storm is, of course, east of the eye. That's where the most powerful winds will be and that's where tornados form. If the eye were to pass 40 or 50 miles east of Miami, it would make a world of difference, perhaps as much as 75 miles an hour of less wind and certainly less storm surge. So the track now is all important.

We prepared for the worst, but we still have our fingers crossed and saying our prayers that the storm will turn east or turn north, rather, east of Miami.

CUOMO: Look, that is the hope. We always want to hope to be wrong in these situations about the track of the storm. But we see that you are staying in Marathon. You're doing your duty. I hope you are safe. I look forward to hearing from you after the storm has passed. We will get the word out about the need, about how people can help and we will tell the stories of what it will take to recover.

But, Mr. Mayor, Dr. Zieg, be safe, God bless and stay in touch, OK?

ZIEG: Chris, thank you very much. You be safe too.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much.

Alisyn, to you back in New York.


So, obviously, we're keeping a very close eye on Irma, but also this story today. New thinking on how college campuses should deal with sexual assault. That's next.


[08:52:32] CAMEROTA: Education Secretary Betsy Devos announcing a review of how colleges and universities should handle allegations of rape and sexual assault. The announcement is catching survivors of sexual assault off guard and they say they're worried.

So let's bring in Annie Clark. She's the executive director and co- founder of End Rape on Campus. That's an advocacy group for victims of campus sexual assault. Annie, nice to see you this morning.


CAMEROTA: What did you think when you heard Secretary Devos wanted to revisit some of this and look at how universities are addressing the issue of sexual assault?

CLARK: I think it's very dangerous. Some of the rhetoric that she was using yesterday sends a very clear message that she wants to send us back in time to a time where survivors were blamed and still are. And I think we have every right to be concerned. And Secretary Devos has said that she would like to listen to survivors and survivor advocacy groups, yet her announcement, the very constituencies that it affected the most were not even invited into the room with her. So we have been given very little indication that we can trust her moving forward in this process.

CAMEROTA: OK. So you heard it the way so many survivors heard it, which is that she wanted to turn the attention to the accused, to generally young men who are accused, sometimes falsely accused, of sexual assault. Now, the interesting thing is, yes, there are occasionally false reports. And that turns the accused's life into a nightmare for sure.

However, there are all sorts of statistics that show that is extremely rare. The FBI says it's something like between 2 percent and 8 percent of all sexual assault reports are false. So roughly 5 percent of them are false reports. The vast majority are real. And usually, as you well know, usually sexual assault victims and survivors generally don't come forward. So what will it mean if there's now more of a focus on looking at the accused?

CLARK: Right. Underreporting, like you said, is a huge problem and I think her announcement yesterday sends a very clear leadership signal from this administration to survivors that they don't have their backs. That they are more focused on this tiny percent of false accusations, which, as you mentioned, do not happen often, and yet they're treating this as a 50/50 issue. The amount of time focused on this, both from this administration and then in some cases in the media is just serving to perpetuate this rape myth. And it's, quite frankly, irresponsible of her.

[08:55:15] CAMEROTA: Let me just pull up -- I mean just to prove your point, let me just show our viewers some real stats. This is from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. It just puts it in stark relief the numbers here.

So one in five women -- we hear this over and over again -- and one in 16 men, by the way, are sexually assaulted while in college. I mean that's a staggering number on its own. More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses don't report the assault because they're afraid that they'll obviously -- they'll be humiliated, they'll be ashamed or it just won't work in their favor, as we know. Rape is the most underreported crime. Sixty-three percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.

Annie, I know that you met with Secretary Devos in July. And so, did you try to impress any of this on her? What were your impressions?

CLARK: So our organization End Rape on Campus met with a contingency of other organizations. And basically she said she wanted to listen to survivors' stories. She listened, but I'm not sure if she heard us because the language she was using shows us that she has a fundamental misunderstanding of the survivor experience. And if she were to actually take into account some of what was said in that meeting, that announcement would have been very different yesterday.

CAMEROTA: Well, Annie Clark, we really appreciate you being on with us.

CLARK: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And being here to share your information. Thank you. We'll speak again.

CLARK: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, obviously we've been tracking Irma all morning. Chris is in Miami watching as the storm approaches.

How's it looking now, Chris?

CUOMO: Well, first, that was a good and important conversation, Alisyn. Thanks for having that for everybody this morning.

From here, look, it is a simple message, prepare and leave if you can. Hurricane Irma is coming towards south Florida. It is hitting Cuba. It has been destroying everything in its path in the Caribbean.

CNN's breaking coverage is going to pick up right after the break. "NEWSROOM," Poppy Harlow, John Berman.

Stay with CNN.