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Mexico Hit with Another Earthquake; Hurricane Maria Battering Caribbean Islands; President Trump's Message to North Korea Shocked U.N. Leaders; Mueller's Team Digging Through Manafort's Background. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 19, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:10] ANOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news on big stories around the world.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Hurricane Maria heading straight for Puerto Rico tonight with 170 miles an hour winds. We're going to go there live for you. And in Mexico a powerful magnitude 7.1 earthquake topples buildings and kills at least 139 people.
At the U.N. President Trump makes his debut speech threatening to destroy North Korea and leaving world leaders shocked.
In Washington, the Senate intelligence committee abruptly scraps its closed door interview today with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Now they want him to testify in public about Russia's election meddling.
That as CNN has learned exclusively that special counsel investigation into Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort is examining activities that go back more than a decade.
And the GOP taking action. Another shot at repealing Obamacare. We're going to tell you what's in this latest bill and what it could mean for your health care.
That's a lot to cover this evening in the next couple of hours and we have it all for you. We're going to begin, though, with hurricane Maria. Our reporters are out in the storm zone tonight. CNN's Tom Sater is live for us in the weather center.
Let's go straight, though, to Nick Paton Walsh. He is in Palmas del Mar, Puerto Rico. Nick, the eye of the hurricane is expected to slam into Puerto Rico within hours. What are the conditions on the ground right now?
NICK PATON WALSH, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, Don, it's a full 10 hours until we really see landfall of hurricane Maria where they're reporting speeds of 175 miles an hour. That would mean you would have to be well over 89 years old to ever see anything like this in Puerto Rico before. The last time they saw a category five was 1928. But the risk now is potentially the vast amount of water hurricane
Maria will bring with it. I am just close to the beachfront. There's no way you can see it now behind those houses. But this is the east Palmas del Mar where it will make landfall at 8 a.m. or so.
Now there's a potential of a storm surge of 11 feet. That's nearly twice my height, maybe 25 inches of rain in some places. It's the concern really the governor has about the huge areas that are prone to flooding and then, of course, what the impact of larger amounts of rain might do on hilly areas and landslides.
They have some kind of warning, but Don, bear in mind, two weeks ago, hurricane Irma caused a billion dollars' worth of damage, and there's still 46,000 people lacking in electricity since that. The issue is it's the damage from hurricane Irma is something that left people still bracing ready for yet another storm to has it weakened the infrastructure to the point where it could be significantly damaged?
Hurricane Irma really gave nothing but a glancing blow as it passed through the north of Puerto Rico. Maria's going to go straight through it. It's going to go hit landfall here. And then possibly go straight across the island on current trajectory through San Juan, the provincial capital.
This is 3.5 million people's home. A lot of damage and concern. Gas stations queues, rationing on water. Shelters put in place. But the broader question that people are ready listening is the severity of the warning, Don.
LEMON: Well, that's the question. What about getting people to safety? Because the governor of Puerto Rico has been trying to get people to evacuate saying that they're lives are in danger. Are they listening? Are they moving to shelters, Nick? We lost Nick's audio. Technical difficulties, obviously.
You see he's in hurricane conditions there and soon about to hit Puerto Rico, as he said it's going to make a straight landfall right at Puerto Rico. We'll check back with Nick Paton Walsh when we get him back as it need -- as need be here on CNN.
In the meantime, CNN's Michael Holmes live for us in Antigua this evening. Michael, good evening. You're live in Antigua tonight. What are the conditions?
MICHAEL HOLMES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, it's starting to abate here, Don. I can tell you all day from the moment we got up this morning before dawn right through now, it has been pounding here in Antigua. And that really makes an interesting comparison.
As I said, it started to slow down now. The storm has moved along west of here and southwest of here. But when we were 120 miles southwest -- northeast of the storm, it was pounding here, Don. There's an ocean behind me that was just broiling with white waves pounding into the shoreline here. These palm trees, several of them snapped in two.
And what that told us was we're 120 miles away from the eye. Imagine what it was like if you were on Dominica, which was this island where it first made landfall as a cat five. They were expecting maybe a cat three. They got a cat five. This is a place that is not ready for a hurricane of that size.
[22:04:59] We talked to a pilot who flies the island around here. He said a couple of years ago a tropical storm did enormous damage on Dominica. This was a cat five. We still don't know how bad the damage is there. Whether there were casualties. Seventy three thousand people lived on that island.
The prime minister did manage to get a post out on Facebook saying the damage was enormous, that it was, the roof came out of his house and just about every other house he saw. So we're still waiting to get some detailed casualty reports out of Dominica in the next 24 hours or so. But they took a direct hit, and they weren't really prepared for it, Don. So the news might not be good.
LEMON: All right. Michael Holmes, thank you very much. Stand by. We'll get back to Michael as well. I want to go to CNN's Tom Sater in the weather center for us. Tom, good evening to you. What's the latest from hurricane Maria's path at this hour?
TOM SATER, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Well, Nick Paton Walsh said it. The last time a category five made landfall was in Puerto Rico was 1928. But those winds were sustained in 160. Earlier, they were 165 which would have been the strongest ever.
And look, Don, we're at 175. We're going in the wrong direction here, and unfortunately it's just sit and watch this unfold. There is a little wiggle room that this is going to miss anything. Right now about 45 miles from St. Croix. It's about 140 now from making landfall in Puerto Rico, which we believe will be about 8 or 9 in the morning.
It has a pinhole eye. And sometimes a pinhole eye, the smaller they are, the more ferocious they can be. And this is only 11 and a half miles in diameter. When Irma move through it's like 23 miles in diameter.
Speaking of Irma, in yellow that's the track. It stayed offshore by 50 and 55 miles and still a million people lost power. Many got it back, many did not. But even today power was being lost when the storm was over 200 miles still away from it, and the winds are only going to get stronger.
If you take a look at this, this is a population density map. The brighter the red, the greater the population. And it's sporadic throughout the entire area. But San Juan, we calculated that over half the population is in the eastern third.
And here's your landfall tomorrow placing San Juan in the area you do not want to be. That front right quadrant as winds kick off and the surge as well will hit the coastline. The amount of rainfall could be staggering.
But first, if you just look at the power outages, this is what we call power outage forecast. The last colors you want to see are orange and red. And it covers all of Puerto Rico even red into the British and U.S. Virgin Islands.
But I'm really kind of concerned about St. Croix. I mean, you never want to go this long without hearing like Barbuda when Irma moved through. We're not hearing from Dominica. We'd like to hear about that as well. We know in Guadeloupe a precious life was lost.
But then the models move up and they spread out in time. You would expect that. And the National Hurricane forecast cone of uncertainty spreads out over time as well. We know that watches are in effect for Turks and Caicos. But let's take a look what the models do.
Blue is the European model and red is the U.S. model. Sure they agree for a while. Keeping it away from the Bahamas. But the U.S. model gets a pretty close to the outer banks. But now watch what happens, the European, they switch positions. This is almost where Jose is right now, which is still a hurricane causing all sorts of problems for flights up and down the coast from around Logan and Boston down to Philadelphia, Don.
LEMON: All right. Tom, I want to get to that massive earthquake that hit Mexico today.
LEMON: Show us the areas of impact. I think it's 139 people were dead right now so far.
SATER: Yes, 7.1. This was a depth of 32 miles deep. You would think that's pretty deep. But it's considered shallow anything like at 44 miles or shallow, as more shallow. And of course closer to the surface, the more shaking you're going to have.
As we take a look at what we're going to watch here and we're going to show you a couple of things when it comes to the shake map and the population that felt either light, moderate or stronger damage.
But, first, you have usually one earthquake that's 8. or higher. That happened 11 days ago. And you have a good 15 out of between 7 and 7.9. But over 15, almost 15.5 million people felt strong shaking, 1.6 million very strong.
The USGS has the computer models and they placed the unfortunate death toll between 100 and a 1,000. That's a 39 percent chance, and unfortunately we're starting to see that, Don.
We are now looking at aftershocks. Not many have occurred. In fact, many are not being recorded right now, but they will. This is going to take days, it's going to take weeks or even months. But we could still see one that's a 6.1 magnitude aftershock. And of course, any structures that have been compromised are going to fall, so unfortunately, a lot of people are sleeping in the streets tonight.
LEMON: Hurricanes and earthquakes, thank you, Tom. Absolutely, you're right on that. I want to bring in now hurricane chaser Mike Theiss. He joins us now from Puerto Rico. Mike, man, it looks like Puerto Rico is going to take a direct hit. Hurricane Maria is about to rip through Puerto Rico. What are you seeing at this hour?
MIKE THEISS, STORM CHASER: The winds are starting to really pick up here, Don. The glass inside the room are starting to bow back and forth. I think very soon now we're all going to take shelter in a safe room, all the guests here.
[22:10:01] There's no window, completely enclosed room that we will be leading towards, I'd say in the next couple of hours when that eye wall starts approaching. But this is just been an incredible hurricane season. All these beautiful islands in the Caribbean are getting devastated by these category five hurricanes. What is going on, Don?
LEMON: That's a good question. You're more of an expert than I am. I know there's a lot of devastation, a lot of death and destruction. I want to -- I want to -- what do you make of this storm's path at this point?
THEISS: Well, it looks like for sure Puerto Rico is going to take a direct hit. We don't know exactly where. I'm currently located on the eastern tip in a city called Fajardo. And it's looking like it's wobbling back and forth. It's going to start stair stepping as it gets closer to Puerto Rico.
So where that eye wall comes in is very crucial. You're going to get these extreme 175 mile an hour winds. So, somewhere along that southern coast all the way over to the eastern coast of Puerto Rico is about to get the strongest hurricane they've ever seen in history.
LEMON: You just chased hurricane Irma. Is there a comparison? Can you compare the two?
THEISS: Well, I can't compare it yet because I haven't gone through it, but it's looking like this is going to be worse than Irma. Irma was a category four when I was at Key West. This is a high and category five on an island. So this is going to be catastrophic here for Puerto Rico. The world is going to need the help for Puerto Rico as well as St. Croix and all these other islands that have just been devastated.
LEMON: All right. Mike Theiss, thank you very much. Be safe. We'll check back with Mike, as well as the rest of our reporters and correspondents and meteorologists who are helping us with this.
We've got much more to come on hurricane Maria rampaging through the Caribbean and heading straight for Puerto Rico.
Plus, President Trump at the U.N. threatening to destroy North Korea. World leaders were shocked, but what about his audience at home?
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump making his first speech to the U.N. General Assembly today. World leaders reportedly taken aback by his threats to destroy North Korea. And the message he had for quote, "rocket man," Kim Jong-un. But how is that message playing at home? Here to discuss is CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim
Sciutto, and Robin Wright or the Wilson Center and the New Yorker. Good evening to both of you. Good to have you on.
Jim, you first. President Trump is bellicose, confrontational in his debut at the U.N. General Assembly today. Outright threatened North Korea's Kim Jong-un. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So I understand you spoke to a senior U.N. diplomat. What reaction was president threatening to destroy North Korea and 25 million people, a country of 25 million?
JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The diplomat said to me that here an American president on the floor of the U.N. threatened to obliterate a country was unprecedented. And the way he described to me he said that people were taken aback and it was like a wind had swept through that auditorium, a cold wind had swept through that auditorium.
It had an effect. He said it was an emotional response. And listen, people have made threats from the U.N. podium before but not an American president and not in such a stark terms. It's not to say that North Korea is not a major, clear and present danger, but that's still remarkable.
Listen, we may not be surprised by it because we've heard that kind of thing from President Trump before in his Twitter and elsewhere. But in maiden speech at the U.N. General Assembly, that's different.
LEMON: But there's a reaction from those who were inside, right, and listening at the U.N. and from diplomats. What about Americans? I mean, there are Americans who believe that Kim Jong -- Kim Jong-un should be dealt with and maybe wiped off the face of the earth.
SCIUTTO: No question. And listen, this is a grave threat no matter who the president it. For democrats and republicans through administrations they've made very clear this is a threat. In fact, if you look at some of the language President Obama has in public comments while he was in office said, well, the U.S. has the ability to wipeout North Korea. But you know, couched in different terms. Different president spoken in a different way.
But it is different in the view of the folks in the room, it's not my opinion, the view of folks in the room to have an American president talking about obliterating a country from the podium of an organization built right to avoid war. Now you can argue whether it's justified. It's certainly different, and that was the reaction of many in the room.
LEMON: Robin, I want you to weigh in on this, but I want to play this and then get your response. Because this is how the president outlined his America first approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: To put it simply we meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril. In America we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but rather let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.
As president of the United States I will always put America first just like you as the leaders of your countries will always and should always put your countries first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Robin, you said this was the president's America first doctrine on steroids.
ROBIN WRIGHT, JOINT FELLOW, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE AND THE WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: Absolutely. And what was kind of curious about the whole speech was that it went and counter to almost every major trend of the early 21st century. This is a moment of globalization and connection. And he was talking about we need greater sovereignty as if we're all threatened, as if every country needs borders to cut them off from the rest of the world, and that's the only way to provide security.
And I think this is what was so shocking to so many people, coming together at the United Nations. This institution built in the aftermath of World War II to try to find means of preventing conflicts and working together. And the president was in some ways saying the world be damned. That we, you know, we are going to act in our own interest, you act in your interest. And it's not an issue of values or democracy.
[22:20:00] It wasn't a bigger picture speech. It was very focused. And it was in many ways not just a Trump doctrine, it was a Trump war doctrine. And whether it was threatening the North Koreans on the border of or in the verge of talking about regime change in Iran, it was critical of Russia and China, threatening military action in Venezuela. This was kind of an aggressive undertone throughout.
SCIUTTO: I have to say that the point Robin highlighted there, this idea of sovereignty, that's a loaded term. This is a favorite expression of authoritarian leaders from China to Russia to the African dictatorships. It's about, you know, we all have different values. Don't preach to me about human rights.
You've often heard that kind rhetoric pushing back at America saying, you know, democracy and open society is the way forward. So to hear an American president that's a real departure from the public comments and really a tenet of U.S. foreign policy democrat and republican for decades about not just the U.S. is a democratic example but supporting democracy abroad.
You had a president here say, you know what, we're not going to impose. What you do inside your borders is your business.
LEMON: But there are some quarters. In some quarters this one over well. I mean, besides the obvious. But the Trump, you know, the hard core Trump sort of nationalist, did it go over in any quarters anywhere else?
WRIGHT: Well, I think it was a speech that was in part that was to his base.
WRIGHT: I'm not sure that when it came to the issue of the Iranian nuclear deal, I think that it was probably only the Israeli administration that was who agreed with him on that.
WRIGHT: Even the Saudis and some of those who have been most critical of the terms of the deal even in the United States they're now saying we don't want to walk away from it. Let -- you know, they're complying so far. Let's think about what happens next. Not trying to aggregate what is the most important of the significant non-proliferation agreement in the course of entry.
LEMON: How does Kim react?
WRIGHT: I think that we will see some more tests. I think that Kim will come away. I've been in North Korea. And I think the North Koreans will say this is proof that they need a nuclear weapon. There will be even less interest in dealing with Washington, dealing with the international community. They believe they've now seen proof that their course of action is the only option for them.
LEMON: Yes. And I would encourage everyone to read your piece in the New Yorker as well. I want to read I don't have my glasses, so I'm glad we didn't get to it. Because I don't I do good job reading but I encourage everyone to go and read it. It's a really good piece. Thank you, Robin. Thank you, Jim. I appreciate it.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, CNN exclusive. We're learning tonight that special counsel Robert Mueller's team is looking at Paul Manafort's activities going back more than a decade.
Plus, hurricane Maria a catastrophic category five storm taking aim at Puerto Rico. We're going to have the latest for you.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Tonight a CNN exclusive. CNN has learned that the special counsel investigation into Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort is examining activities that go back more than a decade. Evan Peres, Shimon Prokupecz, and Pamela Brown broke the story. And
Pamela joins me now. Pamela, good evening to you. What have you learned?
PAMELA BROWN, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Don, we learned that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators are reaching all the way back to 2006 in a probe that centers on possible tax and financial crimes of Paul Manafort. And this is one indication of the pressure that Mueller's team is placing on the former Trump campaign chairman. And really the broad time frame shows that Mueller's team is going well beyond the Russian meddling during the campaign as part of its investigation of Trump associates.
Now, as I reported that yesterday, Don on your show, Manafort has been the subject of an FBI investigation for years, including wiretaps. And he's emerged as a focal point for Mueller and Mueller's team. Manafort's spokesman declined to comment for this story. But Mueller has denied any financial wrongdoing, Don.
LEMON: Why all the way, Pamela, back to 2006?
BROWN: Well, this was a period mentioned in the search warrant. And it covers much of the decade that Manafort worked as a consultant for Ukraine's former ruling party. It's that work that he did as a prompted the FBI's interest to Manafort initially. The party was accused of corruption, and the FBI was just trying to figure out whether the American consultants were involved at all. So that investigation is clearly ongoing here, don.
LEMON: And I understand that you have new details, too, about the July raid on the Manafort home. What do you know?
BROWN: That's right. So sources tell my colleague Shimon Prokupecz and Even Perez the search was an unusually hard-nosed approach. Sources tell us that it began before dawn as Manafort and his wife lay in bed. FBI agents entered with guns drawn and they insisted on searching Kathleen Manafort for weapon. She is the wife of Paul Manafort.
Now that is a standard part of FBI searches, but it was something that was jarring to the Manafort's according to our sources, Don.
LEMON: There's been a lot of pressure on the Manafort, Pamela. Is there any sense whether he is going to be charged with anything?
BROWN: That's a big question. Because the investigation into him under Mueller has been the most visible. And we're told that Mueller's team has warned Manafort that they are working to charge him with possible tax and financial crimes. So that's an indication at the very least, Don, that this investigation could be in an advanced stage.
And we should note also that none of that is about election meddling. As I pointed out this is going back all the way to 2006. Mueller's office has subpoenaed reams of financial records for Manafort in addition to the documents that agents seized during the search, financial documents. And we also know that a spokesman testified to a grand jury last week. Don?
LEMON: Pamela brown, always great reporting. Thank you so much.
LEMON: Now, I want to turn to Congressman Eric Swalwell, he's a California democrat who is a member of the House intelligence committee, he joins us this evening. Thank you, sir. Good to see you. Thanks for coming on.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D) CALIFORNIA: You too, Don.
LEMON: Swalwell -- so, Representative Swalwell, first, give me your reaction to this new reporting that investigators are reaching to all the way to 2006 in a probe that senators on possible tax and financial crimes by Paul Manafort.
[22:30:00] SWALWELL: Well, Don, the Russians were determined and sophisticated in the way that they attack us. And I think it only makes sense that if we want to find out whether any U.S. persons worked with them that we're just as determined and sophisticated.
And as lawfully as possible and you know, a little bit forceful. And so we have to understand what Paul Manafort's relationships were with the Russians or pro-Russian and Ukrainian parties.
There are a number of contacts, a number of people on Donald Trump's team who were working with the Russians prior to the election, during the election and after. And we have to now find out if that converged into a working relationship while Russia was interfering our campaign.
LEMON: So, Manafort is responding tonight to CNN's exclusive report that the FBI wiretapped him before and after the election. He released a statement saying this is in part, he says, "Mr. Manafort's request that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-American so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ. There is nothing there."
What do you make of this, and any way the DOJ will comply with that?
SWALWELL: Well, the Department of Justice is going to work on their own time table and pursue, you know, the evidence as they find it. This is no longer up to Mr. Don, and you know, can confirm or deny whether this eavesdropping occurred.
But Don, this -- they have come to this because almost everyone on Donald Trump's team has not been forthcoming about their contacts. They have denied them, and then only when confronted with overwhelming evidence have they started to acknowledge them.
And so, it's really unfortunate that it's come to this. Hopefully Paul Manafort and others will just be straightforward to the American people about what they knew. And Don, let me also just say this, I hope that our congressional committees are as committed to finding out what happened as Bob Mueller and his team because we owe that to the American people. LEMON: Let me ask you this, as President Trump's lawyer, Michael
Cohen, I'm sure you know about supposed to testify behind closed doors at the Senate intelligence committee today. That testimony canceled after he release his opening statement to the media and a source telling CNN that the committee members were unhappy when Jared Kushner came to testify and release an opening statement.
So they sought assurances from Cohen that he wouldn't do the same thing. Now leaders of that committee say that they want Cohen to appear before the panel publicly. What's your reaction to that?
SWALWELL: Well, Don, it's the easy way or the hard way. The easy way to, you know, voluntarily come in, agree on the terms beforehand and then keep it under seal until a report is issue. And if he violated the agreement, I understand why they wouldn't want to proceed that way.
And now he was going to have to come in the hard way. A public testimony under subpoena it sounds like what's going to happen. Again, Don, if these individuals were patriots and they loved our country they would do everything they could to help us understand what the Russians did and rule out whether anyone on the Trump campaign worked with them.
That's not what they're doing. They're being disrupted. They're being obstructive. They're going out of their way to slow down the investigation, and we're going to find out what happened. Again, hopefully it's the easy way. But if we have to use subpoenas, we're not going to stop.
LEMON: Listen, before I let you go, I want to make sure we have enough time to get this in because this is very important. Republicans are making a last ditch effort to repeal Obamacare, among other things. This plan would get rid of Obamacare individual and employer mandates, get rid of Obamacare subsidies and allow insurance companies to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions. Does this worry you and does this bill have a chance to pass?
SWALWELL: Now, Don, it just doesn't worry me. A firefighter here in Alumina County called me today and said, are really trying to take our healthcare again? People are worried. They're anxious and the best thing we can do is stay loud.
That worked to stop it last time and do everything we can to make sure that we protect people who have pre-existing conditions, keep premiums low and try and find bipartisan opportunities to work together which was occurring in the Senate up until now. And so I'm still confident that the American people will be heard.
LEMON: Representative Swalwell, thank you so much.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
LEMON: When we come back CNN learning tonight that the investigation of Paul Manafort is looking at possible financial crimes going back to 11 years. What does that say about the state of the investigation? Plus, hurricane Maria could be catastrophic to Puerto Rico. We're
going to have the latest live from the storm's path.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Our CNN exclusive, we have learned that the special counsel investigation of Paul Manafort goes back much farther than we originally thought.
Here to discuss it now, Stuart Kaplan, a former FBI agent, and CNN and legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa, also a former FBI agent. Good evening to all of you. Asha, new tonight, CNN has exclusively learned that Robert Mueller's focus on former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort goes back as far as 11 years, all the way back to 2006. What does that tell us about the state of the investigation, and does this mean that Manafort is moving on from recent events of the 2016 campaign?
ASHA RANGAPPA, LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: Well, I think that Mueller is investigating every angle that he can. Now, there are statutes of limitations that could limit the kinds of charges that he can bring, for example, on tax evasion or other financial crimes. Those usually have statutes of limitations ranging from five to ten years. Stuart will probably have the details on that.
But I do think that he wants to put as much pressure as he can on Manafort. I think the bigger picture is that Manafort has valuable information that Mueller wants. He's going to press every button he can. He's going to close off every avenue he can for Manafort to, you know, make any kind of exit.
And I think the idea is that he needs this guy to flip, to get his investigation, to get more information for the rest of his investigation.
LEMON: Stuart, did you...
RANGAPPA: And I believe that the information is related to the intelligence side on what the Russians were up to.
[22:39:59] LEMON: Interesting. Stuart, do you agree with that?
STUART KAPLAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yes, absolutely. The former director what he's implementing and what we would do normally is a full-court press, and what he's creating is putting Manafort on an island to himself. He's cutting off all of his ties with all the people that would provide with support.
He is living in a state of paranoia. People around him consider him now to have a contagious disease. That eventually is going to break him. And that is what the hope of director Mueller, is that eventually they're going to crack him and he's going to raise his hand and want to come in and cooperate. This -- this interest of investigating crimes going back 10, 11 years
ago is of no interest to the director only as much as to try to flip him as, you know, my colleague said, and I think it's going to happen. It's just a matter of waiting him out to create an environment that becomes so difficult for him to just get up and breathe in the morning.
LEMON: So, Asha, talk to me more about this information that you said information on the Russian side. Explain that.
RANGAPPA: So, I think that the evidence that there was this FISA warrant, these two FISA warrants that were on Manafort shed a lot of light on what Mueller might potentially be looking for.
We know that there was one that ended a little bit before Manafort joined the campaign in 2016. And the second one commenced a little bit after, so there was this gap period. And it's in that gap period that there is this initiation of Russian active measures, the Trump Tower meeting.
And I think that there are some keys that Mueller believes that Manafort may have. Possibly I think really relating to how the Russians, you know, engage this operation that Manafort can give him.
I think that, you know, to the extent that it sheds light on other people who might have been helping Americans, whether they're connected with the campaign or not, that's useful. But I think with the Facebook issue, he wants to go after Russians that are in Russia, I think he's just as interested in making sure these active measures are exposed and the people who are responsible for it can be brought to justice as well even if they are Russians.
LEMON: Let's talk, Stuart, about the Trump attorney, Michael Cohen he was scheduled to meet with the Senate Intel committee today. But before that happened he publicly released a prepared statement. And he said he had intended to make the closed door meeting. So what is his strategy here, why release a statement ahead of time knowing that they didn't want to him to release a statement?
KAPLAN: The way I would read that is that may have been an intentional sabotage just to get out from underneath it. You know, we have to remember that he has a privilege, he's in a relationship with Donald Trump...
LEMON: But now he's got to go -- now he's got to do it publicly, though, instead of privately. How is that getting out from underneath it?
LEMON: Doesn't that put more pressure on him?
KAPLAN: Well, exactly. Well, it could. You know, the interesting thing is that pursuant to a congressional hearing, the attorney/client privilege has not been recognized to withstand the scrutiny. In other words, normally in a judicial setting the attorney/client privilege will survive, and that someone may not necessarily be able to compel you to give up those conversations with your client.
Where in these types of proceedings it's been held by the Supreme Court that it may not survive. At the end of the day, I think he made a strategic decision that he would rather have to be compelled to come forward and be forced to give that information.
And obviously, generally speaking when you go in informally privately, you negotiate the terms of your appearance. And obviously there were things that were up concern to him. And I think that the release of this statement was basically to sabotage him having to come forward. And he just had a change of mind. And I think it may have been the right move given the climate at this point.
LEMON: All right, thanks to both of you. I appreciate your time.
When we come back, Mexico's president saying his country is facing a national emergency after deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck today. We're going to go there live.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We have breaking news from Mexico tonight. The death toll has reached at least 149 people after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked Mexico City and the surrounding area today.
I want to go to journalist now Ioan Grillo, live for us in Mexico City. I know that the conditions are pretty tough there, and it's a little bit tougher for you to hear, so I'm going to speak loudly just so people at home would know. We're seeing extensive damage, Ioan, and images of collapsed buildings. Give us the latest on rescue efforts.
IOAN GRILLO, JOURNALIST: So, yes, as you say, a collapsed buildings all over the place. I mean, there's hundreds of buildings like the one right behind me you can see is a building of businesses. There was a language academy, an accountant's office, an internet office there. And buildings have collapsed all over the city.
And there's crews going in there both official rescue teams and volunteers. Now, it's very difficult. In the building right behind me I was just talking to a lady whose sister is trapped there. And she says she works in an office with 50 people and none of them have come out of that office yet. So, very tense.
Really looking for their loved ones and really hoping that they can save them from being crushed under the rubble like you see behind me, and it's all over the city.
LEMON: So, listen, we're hoping the death toll does not go up, but judging from the damage that you're seeing if you can describe that, and can you tell us you fear and officials do as well that the death toll is going to climb.
GRILLO: Tragically, the death toll looks inevitably is going to be much higher. This is just one building we're in front of right now. And only one office in that building had some 50 people. Imagine with the hundreds of buildings around the city.
[22:49:59] In my house where I live, just around the corner, I mean, literally around the corner, a block of apartments collapsed completely. So, all over we're seeing this destruction.
Now it's very sad this happened on exactly the same day 32 years ago. The earthquake of '85, that was really in people's collective memories, the pain of that earthquake, the deaths then. It's something that every Mexican that is alive at that time talks about what they were doing on that day.
And it's really like the nightmare has come back. So, a very sad moment. But also a lot of solidarity. There's been thousands of people who have come out on the streets collecting rubble, putting it in buckets, putting it in wheelbarrows and bringing out water, trying to save other people. Trying to make the death toll as limited as it can be.
LEMON: Ioan Grillo, thank you so much, sir. A hundred forty-nine people dead so far, a 7.1 magnitude quake. And we'll continue to report from there. Ioan, joining us from Mexico City.
Up next, we're going to go live to Puerto Rico where residents are preparing for what could be a catastrophic hurricane Maria.
Plus, a brand new forecast for the storm minutes away.
[22:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Hurricane Maria potentially catastrophic category five storm taking aim directly at Puerto Rico. President Trump reporting, tweeting tonight, "Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster hurricane. Be careful. Our hearts are with you. We'll be there to help."
Joining me now on the phone is Angelica Charak who is in San Juan. Angelica, we hope you're safe. We understand that you're riding out the storm on the island. Did you try to evacuate?
ANGELICA CHARAK, SAN JUAN RESIDENT: Yes. We tried to evacuate. But the tickets were expensive, we found a ticket for $10,000 and $12,000, so it's pretty close to spend tickets.
LEMON: Yes, yes. Expensive.
LEMON: What did your friends and neighbors in Puerto Rico do? Are they still on the island?
CHARAK: Yes. We have a lot of neighbors that stay and a lot of people got last tickets. We have friends at 5 p.m. got a plane and went out. Lucky for them.
LEMON: Yes. What are the conditions like right now?
CHARAK: Now it's pretty calm. But the lights are already gone. We have the generators running already. There is no rain. But at any moment it's going to start. We're 15 people who are now in the house with four dogs.
LEMON: How many people?
LEMON: Fifteen people with four dogs. OK.
CHARAK: Yes. And we're already have our safe places like the closet with water and with food and waiting for Maria.
LEMON: yes. I understand that you have been working to get supplies to St. Thomas after it was hit by hurricane Irma. And you talked to friends there. Did they give you any advice on handling this storm?
CHARAK: Yes. I'm originally from St. Thomas. But I was lucky to have a safety before Irma, but when my friends are there, I help them to get out. And I called them today to ask them what they most regret not to have? And they told me a lot of wine, alcohol, water, and A.M. radio.
LEMON: Yes. Well, listen, best of...
CHARAK: So I bought all those things.
LEMON: Best of luck. We'll check back with you, OK. Be safe.
CHARAK: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you.
CHARAK: Thank you.
LEMON: Joining me now on the phone is Heather Farrell who is on her honeymoon in Puerto Rico. She and her husband are trying to get home to Pennsylvania. Heather, first of all, congratulations on your wedding. You just got married on the ninth. Now you're on your honeymoon with your husband Luke stuck in Puerto Rico. Did you try to get off the island?
HEATHER FARRELL, NEWLY WED TRAPPED IN PUERTO RICO BY HURRICANE MARIA: We did try to get off. We tried as early as Saturday. All the flights were either booked or canceled.
LEMON: Wow. And so, speaking to Angelica, she said the conditions aren't so bad right now. Same thing for you?
FARRELL: Well, we actually are on the ocean. Our room faces the ocean. It's pretty windy but there is no rain. So we were just told to stay inside for now. LEMON: So that's what you're hearing from the resort where you're
staying, right? Just to stay inside?
LEMON: Is there a plan for when the storm hits?
FARRELL: There is. They actually ask that all of us that are staying at the hotel come down stairs at 7 a.m. to a local centralized room that they have set up for us.
LEMON: Have you ever experienced anything like this, Heather? What's going through your head?
FARRELL: I haven't. I just would rather be home than here but I guess we're making the best of it. The hotel has been great. Mike Rivera, the hotel manager has been has been really good with us and the whole staff has been keeping us informed, relieving a lot of the stress.
LEMON: Yes. Well, we appreciate you joining us, Heather. Thank you so much. OK. You stay safe. And we'll check back with you. I hope you guys keep some electricity too, that will be a big help. Thanks so much.
FARRELL: Yes, we lost power hours ago. But they have generators. So we've been up with power still.
LEMON: OK. Heather in Puerto Rico tonight on her honeymoon with her husband Luke married on the 9th and now they're having to deal with this. We wish everyone the best of luck on this and we'll continue to report on.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.
It is pretty close to just 30 seconds away from 11 p.m. here on the east coast. And we have got a lot of breaking news for you tonight.
A new forecast for hurricane Maria. Potentially catastrophic storm heading straight for Puerto Rico.
Plus, republican senators scrambling on a last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare. This time they just might get it done. We're going to tell you what's in this latest bill and what it could mean for your healthcare.
But I want to go right to CNN's Tom Sater, he is in the weather center. Tom, as I understand, top of the hour a new advisory comes in from the hurricane center. What can you tell us? Is that advisory come in yet?
[23:00:05] TOM SATER, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: It has. They've been ahead of schedule with all the activity we've had the last couple of weeks. They've really provided some great information and on time. Here's what we know, Don.