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Trump Meets with Senators on Tax Reform; Clinton on Comey's Actions; Race to Refill Gas Stations; Couple Protects Dolphins. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired September 13, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Today, including what's going on in Washington.

President Trump continue to try to woo Democrats, including Senator Joe Manchin. He had dinner with the president last night. What did they agree on? He'll be here, next.


CAMEROTA: President Trump tweeting this morning about tax reform, saying the approval process for the biggest tax cut and tax reform package in the history of our country will soon begin. Move fast, Congress.

Last night, the president met with a group of bipartisan senators to discuss his policy proposal. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin tweeted this photo after the meeting of he and the president together. He says they discussed ways to work in a bipartisan manner.

And Senator Manchin joins us now this morning.

Good morning, senator.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Good morning. How are you?

CAMEROTA: Doing well.

So tell us about this dinner and what you all discussed and did you come to some agreement on tax reform?

MANCHIN: Well, basically what we had was a great dinner. We had seven senators. We had for Republicans, three Democrats. We all work very well together. And it was a discussion. It was a very lively discussion. It was engaging. It was, first of all, starting out about infrastructure, how we can rebuild America, how we can be innovative and creative as we rebuild America to make sure that we have the latest and greatest of technology. All of these things were exciting.

And then we got right into tax reform, Alisyn. In tax reform, the president came out immediately and says, listen, this is not a tax cut for the rich. I'm not going to get a tax cut, nor any of the wealthy super 1 percenters will get any tax cuts. So that started out saying that most of this will be geared around the working class, middle class, main street of America. And then having a competitive global tax rate corporately that we can compete.

So those are -- this is really what we got into. We didn't get into the minutia. But the overall template, if you will. And we're anxious to see -- we're anxious to see the, you know, the plan when they put it out.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, it sounds like you liked it. It sounds like you liked it. It sounds like --

MANCHIN: Everything they said. The only thing I said, I was very clear, I said, I have ten grandchildren. I cannot look at these beautiful young children knowing that they have $20 trillion of debt right now and we're going to continue to add to it. So I said any plan that has adding more debt betting on the calm (ph) is something that will be very hard for me. I've got to see a pathway forward to not only have no new debt, but start reducing the debt that we've already accumulated. So we made that very clear.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean it sounds like you all might find some common ground. And I guess the question is, what do you think is going on with the president that we've seen over the past couple of weeks where he appears to be courting Democrats, reaching out to Democrats, sometimes much to the dismay of Republicans?

[08:35:09] MANCHIN: Well, it's a shame. This is not what side are you on and whose team are you on. We're on team America. That takes Democrats and Republicans working together.

West Virginia expects me -- and they know who I am -- that I'm going to work with everybody, whether you voted for me, against me, whatever party you're in, it makes no difference to me.

With that being said, I told -- you know, my feeling is this, the perfect piece of legislation can get 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans in the Senate. That's 60. We're not going to get the fridges. We're just not going to do that.

So if the president can come to something that makes sense that goes forward and we don't add to the debt and we make strategic changes that's going to stimulate the economy, grow jobs, give people an opportunity to do better, then we should be looking at that and trying to find a pathway forward. And I think that's what I'm hearing, so we'll just have to wait until the plan comes out and then start working it.

But they were very, very accommodating and understanding where we are all coming from. Heidi was there. Joe Donnelly was there. Everybody had input. John Thune was there. And we had Pat Toomey was there. Orrin Hatch. It was just a great meeting.

CAMEROTA: Sounds like it was productive.

Well, I want to talk to you about the Russia investigation, where we are with everything. You've heard recently Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, talk about the firing of James Comey and once again try to justify why President Trump did that. Hillary Clinton is out with a book and she was just on television moments ago talking about her thoughts on James Comey. So let me play a moment of this for you.



HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I learned about it on the campaign plane. And I was stunned, to be honest. I did not know what to think about it because I knew there was nothing there. And we had trouble finding out what was really going on. And so I was just dumbfounded.


CAMEROTA: OK, senator, just to give you a little more context. We didn't play the question. The question there was, what did she think when she heard James Comey announce that he was reopening the investigation to look into that laptop of Anthony Weiner's that may or may not have had Hillary Clinton's e-mails on it. And you heard her there say that she was dumbfounded and she, of course, gives some of the blame of her loss to that moment.

So what are your thoughts now on James Comey and whether he should have been fired and how much impact he had on 2016?

MANCHIN: Alisyn, first of all, Hillary has had earned the right to write her book. And in her words is what's she's speaking and what she feels in her heart. She's earned that right. Whether we agree or disagree.

And with that being said, I'm on the Intelligence Committee. We're going through a process. We're looking into everything we possibly can. We've have had many, many interviews, people coming before us. We will come out -- the Intelligence Committee will come out with the findings. And you have Mr. Mueller, who's doing his investigation. It's being thoroughly checked inside and out. I hope we get to the end of this, put it behind us, one way or another. Whatever comes out, it will be the facts and we'll move forward with that.

So to say and start speculating, it would be -- it would be wrong for me to do that sitting on the Intelligence Committee, to be honest with you.

CAMEROTA: And, senator, when are you with the investigation? When do you think that Americans will have a conclusion from your committee?

MANCHIN: There's a lot to be done. But I can tell you, the intelligence community and the staff is working feverishly, and we'll continue to work at a very fast pace to get to our conclusion of what we see and if there's anything that we're going to report that needs to be in-depth or go further.

With that, there's no -- right now we're doing our independent and Mr. Mueller's doing his investigation. I can't speak on the timeliness. But these things have not been wrapped up easily because there's so many moving parts and there's a lot of people to interview and a lot of pieces to be put together for the puzzle.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Understand.

Senator Joe Manchin, thank you very much for taking time to talk with us today.

MANCHIN: Thank you.

One thing, Alisyn, I was going to tell you about the dessert. Everybody's been asking me about this.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I'm interested, yes.

MANCHIN: It was a great meal. OK, the president was very engaged and it was very, very nice. And then, at the end, we got this dessert, a strudel, an apple strudel.


MANCHIN: And everybody says you get a scoop of ice cream. Well, there was a perfectly shaped egg. And I'm thinking, you know what, I've never had this type of dessert with an egg. So I don't know why I would get an egg. So I was a little bit timid and I cut into it. And it was ice cream. But it looked -- I'm thinking, oh, my goodness, here we go. But, anyway, it was really exciting. And the president only got one, too. He didn't get two. He got one.

CAMEROTA: Wow. That is egalitarian. Thank you for that dessert report. I am very interested always in dessert.


CAMEROTA: Senator, thank you very much.

MANCHIN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We have a quick programming note for all of you. Anderson Cooper will interview Hillary Clinton on her new book, "What Happened." That will be tonight at 8:00 p.m. on "A.C. 360."

[08:39:55] OK, so Florida gas stations are trying to get back online. They're trying to get fuel. They're trying to accommodate all of these lines of cars that you see. We have a closer look at what's causing delays and the frustration and these long lines.


CAMEROTA: Time for CNN "Money Now." Gas remains scarce in Florida. The state is racing to refill empty stations to help these millions of drivers get out of the long lines that we've seen.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in our Money Center with more.

How's that going? CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: About half of the gas stations in Florida are dry at this hour and shortages are even worse in several major cities, like Gainesville, where 62 percent of stations don't have fuel. Now, many residents bought gas before fleeing the storm. That helped spark the shortage.

Another factor here was Harvey. Hurricane Harvey. That storm closed many key oil refineries, disrupting America's gas supply.

Now, fixing Florida's gas shortage depends on its ports. The state relies on oil tankers to meet fuel demands. And any significant damage could delay shipments.

Now, so far Irma avoided a worst case scenario and thankfully, Alisyn, most major ports reopened yesterday, including the state's biggest in Tampa Bay. One of the first vessels to enter Tampa Bay carried fuel. And the port expects nine more in the next two days.

[08:45:02] Now, even as gas starts to flow, the next hurdle is getting it from the ports to the gas stations. And then there's the power problem. Nearly half of the gas stations in Florida still don't have power. You can't pump gas if you don't have power, if the lights aren't on, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. So they have a lot of work to do.

Thank you for the update, Christine. Great to see you.

So people in The Keys rode out Irma for a variety of reasons. They stayed for all sorts of different reasons. And here's one to tell you about. Some stayed to protect animals, like dolphins. We're going to talk to them, next.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Chris Cuomo with the CNN team here in Key West. And this is a story of loss. Thank God the human toll is relatively small. At latest count, 55 people lost their lives from Hurricane Irma, 24 of them in the United States.

The number is always too high, but it is amazing that it is not higher. That is cautious optimism because the searching is not over.

But it's not just people. It's obviously property. But closer to the heart, pets, animals, the biodiversity here. That needed to be rescued. That needed to be protected as well.

We have two people who stayed to do just that. Dr. Philip Admire (ph) and his wife, Dr. Michelle Crosetto. They are with Island Dolphins. They deal with rescue. They deal with maintaining dolphins and the integrity and education for people of the biodiversity down here. They're on Key Largo.

Do I have both of you?



CUOMO: Thank you for joining us.

How are the dolphins? How did they fare? What was it like going through the storm with them?

ADMIRE: Well, the dolphins are great. They were, of course, our number one concern, and that's why we stayed. And they pretty much stayed together during the storm. When the storm surge was running five feet high, you know, I was afraid that things might spill out.

[08:50:06] We had all kinds of debris come into the pools, which was also a concern. We were out here trying to clean up that -- clean up all that debris. Hold our floating docks together, because they were pretty much -- pretty much wiped out. And the dolphins -- the dolphins did great, you know. We were able to even come down and feed them once that day and they came over and ate and looked up at us. And it was great.

CUOMO: Doctor, you know the question. People will say, but this is about people. You stayed behind. You could have been killed. You could have been hurt to protect the dolphins. Why the attachment?

CROSETTO: Well, I think when we signed up for this job and got into this field, we knew that our primary concern was taking care of these animals. And for Philip and myself, it was -- it was never even a question in our minds. We were going to stay. We were going to take care of the animals. We were going to do whatever we need to.

We -- we did everything we could to make sure that we were safe. We -- we have a great building to be in. We fortified ourselves with plenty of water and food and everything. So we made ourselves as safe as possible. But at the end of the day, it's all about the dolphins.

ADMIRE: Also just to kind of -- to give -- to make a comment on that --

CUOMO: You know, Philip, there was a great child poet --


CUOMO: Go ahead.

ADMIRE: No. All I was going to say, leaving these dolphins to me, it would have equated to tying your dog up in the yard and just evacuated. We couldn't leave these dolphins. You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know -- you don't know what kind of danger is going to present itself. And we were keeping our eyes on the animals to help them in any way they may need at any moment. So, luckily, everything turned out all right though.

So you were saying about a child poet?

CUOMO: Where I was going -- yes. So listen to this. I hear that the dolphins are playing there and, you know, showing that beautiful, joyful life as they teach the reset of us. And that's what I was going to ask you about. There was a child poet named Matty Stepanic (ph). He's not with us anymore. And he had -- one of his expressions was that you need to learn how to play after every storm. And is that one of the lessons you get acutely from being with the dolphins and seeing how they are today, even just moments after such destruction?

ADMIRE: Yes, absolutely. I mean these guys, they give us joy, for sure. And they give a lot of people joy. You know what we do down here is we do dolphin assisted therapy for all kinds of people with developmental and mobility problems, as well as veterans. And the veterans thing is near and dear to my heart. I spent 12 years in the Marine Corps. and I just -- I love doing that.

And the amount of joy these animals bring to these folks, and the fact that we're going to be able to do that next week is awesome. You know, we're a non-profit. We run strictly on donations. We've got a lot of work to do here. We've got a lot of damage. We have a lot of things we have to replace before we start next week. And -- but working with these dolphins every day, even with all of that going on, and knowing the joy they're going to be giving these people next week, it's just -- it's just really an awesome thing.

CUOMO: Well, Philip, Dr. Michelle, you guys are a true partnership. You're married, and you're married to a cause as well.

CROSETTO: Thank you. We are.

CUOMO: Thank you for keeping the dolphins safe. Thank you for letting our audience see them play this morning.

CROSETTO: Thank you.

CUOMO: We'll take -- we'll take good stuff anywhere we find it.

CROSETTO: Thank you.

CUOMO: Thanks for being with us.


CUOMO: And it's always the best way to end the show.

CROSETTO: Thank you.

CUOMO: It's always the best reminder of the need to see the beautiful part of life, and in people.

No, thank you.

So let's take a break. When we come back, we have a very special "Good Stuff" for you from The Keys. Stay with us.


[08:55:14] CUOMO: All right, and a special "Good Stuff" this morning. You know journalists are here to do a job, but it's always about being human beings first. And no matter who we saw here on The Keys, no matter how shell-shocked, they all wanted the same thing, before food, before water, they wanted to speak to their loved ones. They hadn't heard from them in days. They wanted people to know that they were still alive, that they were still OK. Here's some of those calls.


CUOMO: It's ringing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John, it's dad. OK. We have some pretty good damage to our house and a lot of other things are washed away here. But we just wanted to let you know we're OK.

CUOMO: You ever seen anything like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not like this. Not even close.

CUOMO: You haven't been able to talk to anybody?


CUOMO: Since?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It hit. I mean before that, you know. It's just -- it's been a mess. It's been a mess.

Hey, Jess, I'm alive. There's no fatalities that I know of. It's just a mess. A total mess down here. OK, honey, I love you. All right, bye.

Thanks, guys. That was --

CUOMO: No, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean that was -- woo!

CUOMO: Not knowing is the hardest part for your loved ones and trying to figure out where you guys are, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I give a call to Massachusetts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, guys, again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm down here in Key West talking on a cell phone of CNN's people. I'm fine. Everyone is good. Please get in contact with mom and the rest of the cousins and friends. Thank you very much. I've got to let this phone go. Thank you. Bye.

Thanks, guys.

CUOMO: No problem.



CUOMO: Let's just try all the numbers and see who you can get so they can spread the word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I try this number?

CUOMO: Of course.



CUOMO: Are you sure?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are the kids? Are they all right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll never stay for another hurricane, ever.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never again will I stay.

CUOMO: Listen, you made it through. You know, you lost your home. That sucks any way you look at it. But you've got a way to make a living. You've got the people that you love. And you've just got to start from there. It will be small solace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, dad. I don't know when they're going to open the road again. All right, I'll try. Love you, dad.


CAMEROTA: Oh, Chris, what emotional moments. I man you can just hear the gratitude and the relief in their voices as they're able to finally tell their loved ones that they are OK. So thank goodness you had that satellite phone and you were spreading it around so generously.

And we have a little more "Good Stuff" for all of you because yesterday we spoke with a guy named William Rose (ph). He was this young man who evacuated the Florida Keys while his family members, his mom, his grandma, his step dad all stayed behind. He had not heard from them for days. But we are happy to report that William finally made contact with them last night and thankfully everyone is fine. So hopefully we will keep bringing those stories, Chris, of people who are remaking connections with their loved ones.

So, Chris, best of luck down there for today. We'll check back with you throughout today and tomorrow, OK?

Meanwhile, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman will pick up our coverage after this very quick break. We'll see you all tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. So glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow. Our John Berman, as you see there, is in Big Pine Key right now, very close to the end of the chain of The Keys. We'll get to him in a moment with a reality check on the devastation there.

But first the headlines this morning.

About 5 million homes and businesses still without power after Irma. Florida Power and Light expects to get its east coast customers back on the grid by this Friday. That is their hope. But people on the west coast, the Gulf Coast of Florida, well, they could suffer through what is expected to be at least nine more days in the dark in the sweltering heat because of a lack of power.

Irma now blamed for 55 deaths, 12 of them across Florida, 24 in the United States total right now. Right now Florida's governor is starting another damage tour. We are expecting to hear from him on this program. So you'll hear that here live.

Let's get to John Berman. He is on Big Pine Key right now.

John, you made your way with your team in a helicopter yesterday after this show all the way down there. And to tell our viewers, this is really, you know, not far from Key West, close to the end of The Keys. This is part of the lower keys that were hit so hard.

[09:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the Big Pine Key is a lower key, I guess on what mile 23 marker right here. Big Pine is up about 23 miles from the far south. This is the worst that we've seen in terms of damage right now.

Poppy, you can see, I'm standing on storm surge.