Return to Transcripts main page


Governor Rick Scott Gives Update on Irma Damage and Recovery; Trump versus GOP on Moving His Agenda; Interview with Senator Marco Rubio; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 12, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: -- phone calls from nursing homes and assisted living that they're having issues with their generators, and so we're doing everything we can to help them get either generators, fuel, power back on, but it's one of the issues we're dealing with aggressively to help them.

We're trying to get ahold of them constantly and a lot of them are calling me. So we're working hard with that.

I want to really thank everybody. I want to thank our National Guard, I think it's over 8,000 members of National Guard have shown up. They're doing everything from helping with shelters to debris removal to clearing roads. They show up and do everything.

People show up when their own family might be in harm's way. So I want to thank the National Guard for showing up. I want to thank Highway Patrol. We had over 1700 officers keeping our roads open. If you -- we had some traffic but the truth is we never -- it never stopped.

We had to open up shelters in places in the state and so they've already -- they with DOT has already opened up all of our highways, all of our turnpikes are open again. We're working to make sure there's fuel on them. So we'll be getting those fuel trucks out.

Next I want to thank the federal government. It starts with President Trump. I've talked to President Trump much every day. Day before yesterday I talked to him three times as we're in the middle of a disaster. And he said he's going to make sure we get all the federal resources we can.

I've been talking to Vice President Pence. Pretty much every Cabinet has called me. I've talked to Administrator Brock Long from FEMA. FEMA has been a partner all along with this. I want to thank the president for the pre-landfall declaration. I want to thank him for the major declaration afterwards.

That does not happen all the time. This president and this administration is absolutely focused like I am on, one, the safety of everybody, but on top of that getting people back to a more normal life as fast as possible. So we got a lot of work to do but everybody is going to come together. We're going to, you know, get this state rebuilt. This state is a strong, resilient people and we're going to get our

jobs back. We're going to help build our companies again and then get this all cleaned up and hopefully get more tourists back in their staying and get everybody back.

Let me know turn it over to the mayor.

MAYOR LENNY CURRY, JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA: Thanks. Want to thank the governor for, as always, being on site, an opportunity to show him some of the areas that were impacted heavily, where rescues were happening yesterday, where there is damages in areas, impacted heavily where there is damage and areas we're going to need to frankly rebuild and clean up.

We knew that this was going to be a major weather event even when it shifted west. You all covered it. You heard us say it. This was going to be serious. What does serious mean, what Mother Nature brings, whether it's tornadoes, wind, flooding. This time, we woke up yesterday to category 3 hurricane storm surge and tropical storm.

The governor provided assets. We secured assets with his help and the federal government as well and our local first responders and those rescues happened. So now the recovery and the rebuilding begins.

SCOTT: And we're going to hear from Major General Mike Calhoun of the Florida National Guard.

MAJ. MICHAEL CALHOUN, FLORIDA NATIONAL GUARD: Good morning, Governor. And thank you very much. OK. I'd like to add that the governor mentioned before we post around 8,000 guardsmen on ground and we've increased to roughly just around 9,000. In over half of the 500 shelters that are around the state and we're in 32 points of distribution that are being opened up currently.

We have search and rescue on the ground down in the Keys. The aircraft that we just saw on the UH-60 we were doing a recon of the area to see the damage assessment. We have 16 aircraft in the air doing the same missions down in the Keys and across the state and our aircraft will grow another six. We had 22 aircrafts in the air available. They'll be doing slang load operations, other operations that's needed and we have engineer assets on the ground, continuing to do search and rescue, debris removal as the governor said and any other tasks that are (INAUDIBLE) for us. That will be all, sir.

SCOTT: And we hear from the Highway Patrol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also like to thank the governor for his tireless effort in this -- in the hurricane. Also the -- all major roadways are open. We just ask for your patience as we begin this recovery process. Thank you.

SCOTT: David, the Highway Patrol has 1700 people working. They're working 12-hour shifts, they're doing everything we can to keep these roads open. But the most important thing for everybody is I want everybody to be safe. And that's what they're trying to do every day. Everything we did on the evacuation now when people coming back is how do we do this in a manner that they're safe.

And let me -- one thing and just say something about FEMA. FEMA has been a great partner, it's been seamless. We have -- they have assets that they're deploying around the state, we're doing that with them. We're going to do everything we can to get water, food, any resource we can, out to people as fast as possible. The -- what the president gave us with the major declaration is going to help our families get back into a normal life as fast as possible. So I'll be glad to answer any questions. Any questions that raised.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Governor, what about the fly-over? What kind of damage have you and the mayor seen that stands out to you?

SCOTT: Just the amount of flooding. I mean, you heard about it in people's faces last night when you go to the shelter. You saw it on TV yesterday.

[10:35:05] But then you can see it when you see, you know, a bird's eye view, areas that you would never think would be flooded and you just can't imagine what those families are going through when, you know, they -- you know, maybe they followed the weather but they probably thought, well, gosh, this is going to be, you know, a typical hurricane event, just a lot of wind and when you get the flooding it had to scare the living daylights out of people.

But fortunately the mayor and everybody here showed up. We've brought in fish and wildlife, you know, everybody has shown up and there's -- I think as the mayor said there's over 300 individuals rescued.

CURRY: That's right.

SCOTT: And Mayor, you want to add anything?

CURRY: I'm just -- we're in recovery mode and rebuild mode right now. But I am so grateful for what occurred yesterday, you know. We -- it would have been nice if there weren't people in areas that were affected by the surge, but the first responders just stepped up and did their jobs and neighbors helped each other. I mean, what I saw on the ground yesterday was nothing short of what the definition of what humanity should be all about.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mayor, I pick up a little frustration when you talk about, you know, you wish people weren't there when you issued the evacuation orders. I mean, is that -- was that frustrating? You know, we saw the people were out at bars, watching the game. Was that alarming?

CURRY: The frustrating part is because we -- it's about individual lives. You know, we're not trying to be difficult. We're not trying to make people's lives inconvenient. And I think the governor was saying it best leading up to this. Evacuations are not about convenience. They're about safety. And so we just want people to be safe.

Look, I was telling people around Jacksonville if this wasn't my job I would have left this city days ago. I wouldn't have been here for this storm because I understood the seriousness and the impact of it. And we just hope that, you know, people take this seriously. We don't want another event like this but Mother Nature is Mother Nature and we just want people to be serious about it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you pleased with the lack of loss of life here? We didn't lose a lot --

CURRY: We have no reported casualties as a result of the storm that we're aware of at this point. So yes, I'm incredibly grateful.

SCOTT: Every life is important, so every family is important, so we want to keep everybody alive. Anybody else?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you aware of any like pollution or sewage spills caused by the flooding in Jacksonville and around the state?

CURRY: That will be reported in a transparent manner. So we will -- I haven't seen data today since I've been up in the air. But if it's happened we'll know about it and I think that's a result of the governor's --

SCOTT: Yes. We passed -- we passed legislation that requires that disclosure. And we -- you know, one thing you is you work to make sure -- some of that gets caused because there's not good backup power. And so that's what we've really tried to make sure happens around the state, that everybody has power so we don't have that issue.

I mean, these backup generators I know it cost money but it really does matter. So for everybody, whether, you know, in so many businesses. And that's why we're working really hard with our ALFs and nursing homes with regard to that.

Anybody else? All right. Thanks, everybody.

CURRY: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. You've been listening to Florida Governor Rick Scott. He's up in Jacksonville briefing the press on the situation throughout the state.

Some news out of there, first of all, up in Jacksonville, which experienced really bad historic flooding, he did note it surprised them. This storm moved. It just shows the scope of the damage here. Jacksonville, which is up on the other end of the state from where I am and certainly the Florida Keys, had to deal with historic flooding there.

The mayor of Jacksonville said, look, if I didn't have to stay here and do my job I would have left beforehand. They're recovering up there.

The governor also talked a lot about the power issues, electricity in this state. More than 15 million human beings still without power in Florida and adjoining states. And the governor talked about the enormous, mammoth effort being undertaken right now to restore the power. He said 30,000 people from out of state are now engaged in the process of helping restore power.

That's just the out of state help. I have been told that 20,000 people in state were working 24 hours a day to get the power lines back up. So this is a huge, huge effort. And then the governor talked about the Florida Keys. Perhaps the most acute concern right now is for the Keys, including those places just now begun to be reached by search and rescue operations and utility efforts down there.

The governor talking about the need that is still great and how they are trying to get down there and how the Department of Transportation is at this moment inspecting the more than 40 bridges to make sure that they can hold the weight of the people who want to go home, of the rescue crews, of the utility companies. That might be the first order of business for some of the efforts down there -- Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And John, in the Florida Keys, as we heard the governor say, as you said, DOT is looking at the bridges, the stability there, talking about help on the way, but Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is calling on some of those lower Keys, especially parts of them, to be evacuated.

[10:40:09] You're looking at images from moments ago of Key Largo, Florida. You've got boats just completely whipped on land. Structures demolished.

Senator Marco Rubio says some of the folks need to evacuate the Keys because there's no drinkable water, no power, and little availability to contact help.

Much more of our special live coverage ahead.


HARLOW: President Trump preparing a bipartisan pitch on tax reform. He says he's looking to push his tax reform agenda forward.

[10:45:03] The guest list for the meeting, the dinner they're going to have tonight, features a bipartisan group of senators, including three Democrats from red states that came up big for the president in 2016, Indiana's Joe Donnelly, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia's Joe Manchin.

But before the sit-down with the president tonight he will host Malaysia's prime minister in a meeting that Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says will focus on a variety of things of course including North Korea.

Now as the president looks to push forward his tax reform agenda, growing friction between he and Republicans in Congress. Could this be the latest stumbling block?

Here to discuss, CNN commentators Bakari Sellers and Doug Heye. Nice to have you here, gentlemen.


HARLOW: Doug, let me begin with you. You know, watching Steve Bannon in that "60 Minutes" interview was riveting in so many ways and especially when he talks about taking on members of their own party. Just listen to this.


CHARLIE ROSE, CBS' "60 MINUTES": You are attacking on many fronts people who you need to help you, to get things done.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: They're not going to help you unless they're put on notice they're going to be held accountable if they do not support the president of the United States. Right now there's no accountability. They have totally -- they do not support the president's program. It's an open secret on Capitol Hill.


HARLOW: Since the election, Doug Heye, as you know, you've got 17 Republicans now as of yesterday, ho are not running again for Congress. They've announced their departure. A number of them more moderates, a number of them in tough states to hold on to their seats. You tweeted how much this worries you as a conservative.

HEYE: Yes. Look, I've talked to a lot of members of Congress, Republican members, obviously, just in the past week, and I keep hearing the same thing over and over again. They're demoralized, they're hearing bad things back home about how it's just a thankless job, and this is part of what worries them. It's part of what feeds that.

And if you're a Republican member of Congress and you see some of your colleagues departing you're starting to wonder if the grass is greener. The Bannon interview, the threats of primaries that we've seen coming not just from Steve Bannon but from the press secretary podium as well, all feeds into that.

The reality is, though, is that if we elect more Democrats, if we primary Republicans it will help elect Democrats, you know, end any Trump agenda that may exist, surely as the Republican takeover in 2010 stopped the Obama agenda.

HARLOW: You know --

HEYE: It just doesn't make a logical sense.

HARLOW: You know, Bakari, in the press briefing yesterday Sarah Sanders was asked about McConnell and Ryan and the leadership and the administration working with them. Her response was, quote, we are, quote, "committed to working with the leadership we have." Not exactly a ringing endorsement. BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: It's not. But I don't think you can

expect any more than what you heard from Sarah Huckabee Sanders or the White House for that matter. I actually think that all of this is playing out and what Doug is talking about, it hits the nail on the head, it's playing out right now in Alabama.

You have Mitch McConnell and his group supporting the current senator, Senator Luther Strange, and then you have Senator Roy Moore or excuse me, Judge Roy Moore, who is coming not out of nowhere but is coming with the backing of Bannon and others, pushing out what is, quote- unquote, "the establishment."

So when you're -- if you're somebody like Senator Wicker or somebody like Senator Flake or Senator Heller, this has to concern you. But as a Democrat, it simply states that we need to make sure that we're fielding candidates and quality candidates all throughout the country like we're doing with Doug Jones and Democrats have to stop having this purity test to be willing to support people throughout the country to take advantage of these openings that the White House has given us.

HARLOW: Doug Heye, let's talk about "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that not just one, but a handful at least, a number of the president's attorneys within the White House, thought that Jared Kushner should go a few months ago. This is after the revelation of these four separate meetings he had with different Russians, the ambassador, the Russian lawyer, the Russian banker.

That was the feeling. Now clearly that didn't happen, but the fact that this is now public, has been disclosed, even some, you know, explanations of his departure were drafted the "Journal" reports. How significant is that?

HEYE: You know, honestly I don't think it's terribly significant. It becomes part of the very unimportant theater that we all follow but the reality is, Poppy, if you like what this administration is doing it's because you like Donald Trump. If you don't like what this administration is doing it's about Donald Trump.

I remember my last conversation face-to-face with Reince Priebus about a month and a half, two months ago now, and he asked me what I was hearing. I said it wasn't good. He asked if that had anything to do with staff. And I said no, Reince. There is one issue with this White House and one issue only, this is Donald Trump's White House. Staff is an unimportant theater at this point.

HARLOW: Even Jared Kushner, his son in law and one of his closest advisers in charge of Middle East peace, in charge of some huge things?

HEYE: There are obviously very important things that he's working on. He's a family member. It draws more attention and more scrutiny. But this administration is about Donald Trump pure and simple.

HARLOW: Bakari Sellers, you may have the book or buying it today, probably haven't read it yet, but Hillary Clinton's new book is out if you haven't heard. She'll be talking to Anderson Cooper about it tomorrow night. She did an interview with "USA Today."

[10:50:01] In that "USA Today" interview she says she's, quote, "convinced that there was collusion between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the election. So she says she's convinced, she goes on to explain why. Doesn't put evidence forward. Mueller hasn't said he's convinced or put that evidence forward, you know, the congressional committees have not done that.

Is this a bridge too far at this point, meaning does it risk her looking like sour loser and sour grapes here? I mean, why say I am convinced at this point when you haven't had any of the authorities who are actually investigating say the same?

SELLERS: Hillary Clinton wrote a memoir that I have read and it's really, really good. And it's more than just, you know, her thoughts about Russia and it's more than just whether or not she thinks there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. There are a lot of us who believe that.

But the fact of the matter is, I mean there are more people who are pushing Hillary Clinton out of the limelight and telling her to go sit down somewhere than there are people pushing Steve Bannon who is a self-proclaimed white nationalist out of the limelight.

I mean, let Hillary Clinton live. Let her go on her book tour. Mitt Romney is thinking about running for United States Senate. Nobody is telling him to go somewhere else. I mean, it's an amazing opportunity. She's not running for office any more.

HARLOW: But that's not what I asked you, Bakari.

SELLERS: I'm sorry?

HARLOW: That's not the question I asked you.

SELLERS: Oh, no, it's not a bridge too far. In fact, if there's anyone who felt the brunt of the collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, it's one person. And that's Hillary Clinton. Mueller's investigation is going to play out. And I would be willing to bet that I'm going to bet on the character and honesty and truthfulness of Hillary Clinton than that of Donald Trump.

HARLOW: Bakari, we've got to leave it there, guys. Thank you very much. I should just note Bakari Sellers, you say collusion, we're waiting for Mueller and we're also waiting for those congressional committees.

Let's go to John now in Miami who -- all right. John was going to interview Senator Marco Rubio. We're trying to get his connection back up.

But, Senator, I believe I have you with me, is that correct?


HARLOW: Senator, thank you very much for your time and our thoughts to all of you in Florida, all your constituents, and the incredible work being done by Governor Scott and all of those emergency responders.

You tweeted this morning that you believe some of the lower Keys should be evacuated. What is that based on? Why is that?

RUBIO: Yes. To be clear, what I mean is, if there are individuals down there that would like to leave, they may not have access to fuel or in an unsafe structure, not a mandatory thing, to go back. (INAUDIBLE) no water (INAUDIBLE) to the extent -- move shelter something that should be considered. Nothing -- not -- not the evacuation, maybe the better choice of words would have been for me to say that, you know, we should help facilitate moving people who find themselves down there now, unable to, you know, feed themselves, it's --


RUBIO: And over the next couple of days as work is happening, to restore power, you know, a water system issue, the further south you get the longer the aid is going to get there.

HARLOW: Look, it's scary what we're looking at. We're looking at these new images out of Key Largo and some of the lower Keys and the fact that FEMA is saying you've got a quarter of the homes in the Keys that are completely demolished.

You're in Jacksonville right now. This storm turned and turned fast and Jacksonville got a whole lot more than it was betting on. What are you seeing in Jacksonville? What's needed there?

RUBIO: Well, we're about to arrive. We haven't seen yet -- we've seen the images, and we're talking to the mayor and local officials. There are a lot of localized flooding, a lot of flooding, widespread and closer to the water, obviously, and they actually had numerous, it sounds like, I saw a report upwards of 300 people that had to be rescued. Incredible work by first responders.

And now I think our thoughts are turning to some of the other issues here obviously. Still safety. You know, we had 13 kids yesterday in Bonita Springs go to the hospital because of carbon monoxide poisoning due to generators. You know, then obviously a lot of people still in need of emergency sheltering.

We've talked about the Keys. There are other places where people aren't going to have housing for a significant period of time, and FEMA has a program called Transitional Sheltering Assistance for eligible disaster survivors trying to facilitate that process and make it as quick as possible. So these are the sorts of things you start thinking about.

And then the economic damage is -- we've got to start. The Florida Keys is, you know, replete with small businesses for the most part from the bait shops, charter captains to the -- you know, everyone in between and many of them are not going to have any sort of income for a period of time here until the Keys are back up and running. So, obviously, that's where the Small Business Administration and

others can be of assistance. So obviously still concern about life safety issues but also concerned about people who have been displaced, where do you get them, how do you feed them, how do you provide them assistance and how do get, you know, some of our rebuilding efforts going.

HARLOW: Of course.

[10:55:03] Senator, John Berman is with us, and look, he's been down covering this storm from before Irma began in Miami and he's got some questions for you as well.

BERMAN: You know, Senator Rubio, just off the bat --

RUBIO: Hey, John.

BERMAN: I've been saying this to every Democratic and Republican office holder, thank you for everything you've done before, during and after the storm to keep the public informed. I sincerely think that all of you, Democrats and Republicans, save lives in this effort and the work you're going to do to get the resources down here that are needed will probably save more lives going ahead.

Let me ask you this, again, about the Florida Keys. All the resources are heading down there. I did speak to Roman Gastesi, the county administrator from Monroe County, he made it sound -- he goes look, this is a hurricane, we deal with hurricanes, we are going to make this through. Make it through this.

You know, he doesn't want to evacuate. I know you suggested at least the question needed to be asked, what's your latest intelligence on the conditions there?

All right. I think we lost Senator Marco Rubio. Hopefully he heard me thank him because I really do mean it, Poppy. I think that the Republicans and Democrats who hold office in Florida have done a remarkable job through this storm before and during to warn people to evacuate, to give them the information they needed to keep themselves safe and they've been everywhere.

Every member of Congress, every city official and statewide officials, I can't keep track of where they are sometimes because on one hand they're on the east coast, then they're on the west coast, they're up north, then they're down in the Keys overlooking. It is important work to do and the 20 million people of Florida need them to be doing it right now, Poppy.

HARLOW: They need them and they're going to need help for a long time as you heard the senator say. All of these small businesses throughout the Keys and their business is completely wiped out and gone. This is the nation's fourth largest economy. Everyone needs to help it get back on its feet.

John, thank you for what you, your producer Ali, your crews are all doing. We will see you back here. Thank you all for being with us. And I'll leave you with these brand

new images out of Florida, especially in the Keys, devastation from Irma. We have our team spread across the state. Much more of our breaking news coverage continues next.