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Riding Out Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico; Mueller Looking into Manafort's Past for Potential Crimes; Interview with Rep. Bob Goodlatte; Puerto Rico Governor: House GOP Group Working on Legislative Fix for DACA. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired September 20, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] FRED MASRETMOS (ph), HURRICANE VICTIM (via telephone): Well, the situation now is that it's died down a lot. The winds have died down a lot, but we still have those big, bursting gusts that are, I would guess, still around up to 80 miles an hour. And I'm up on six floors, the upper level of our office building right now and it's still moving our roof around when we get those big gusts.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Have you ever gone through anything like that?
MASRETMOS (ph)I mean, I -- another profession of mine is I'm a snowmobiler and I've been through a lot of major storms in my life, but nothing that compares to this whatsoever.
BOLDUAN: How do you describe it, Fred. So many folks who rode out the storm and lived through it is it's the sounds of the wind that struck them so much. What did it sound like, what did it feel like?
MASRETMOS (ph)It's like a freight train. It's just nonstop and it vibrates the entire structure that I'm in. I mean, I was in -- when I was in the worst part of it, we went into that stairwell and the whole structure was just humming and vibrating. And then on top of that, we were on the fourth floor during the worst of it, and the whole stairwell was actually moving back and forth, several inches with the big gusts.
BOLDUAN: And there's nowhere else for you to go when you're in the middle of it, right?
MASRETMOS (ph)Well, yes, that was the dilemma. We don't know -- you know, when it's this big and it's a category 5, we don't know if we're safer being up high if the building starts to come down or if you're safer being down low if just parts of the building start to come off.
BOLDUAN: Yes, well, thank god you are OK. Your wife and kids are back in Michigan, I assume. Have you been in touch?
MASRETMOS (ph)Yes, with we have, and my wife had a very stressful night waiting this out with me.
BOLDUAN: I would assume so. How about power and water that was a huge problem? Power being still out on the island from even Irma, was already a problem. How -- what -- do you have power and water now? MASRETMOS (ph)We're lucky here at our office building, being a
contractor, the company they work for owns the building. We want to be able to set up to be up and running as soon as a storm like this happens and passes, so we have large generators here on site. So, we have power and plenty of water here. But, I mean, I was out, you know, before this storm on Sunday and Monday, running around to the stores and, yes, water was first thing to go off the shelves.
Fred, thank you so much for jumping on the phone. I'm so happy to hear that you're safe. I know were wife and kids are as well. Please continue to stay safe. I really appreciate it.
We'll continue our special coverage of Hurricane Maria and what's happening there, the track, the forecast, and the devastation that is left behind. That is ahead.
Plus, this. Breaking news on Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. CNN has now learned that investigators, they're now looking as far back as 2006, 11 years back, into his past for potential crimes. Why? What could it mean today? Details on that, ahead.
[11:37:18] BOLDUAN: This morning, a CNN exclusive. CNN has learned that special counsel investigation into Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is looking at Manafort's activities that go back more than a decade.
CNN's Shimon Prokupecz and Evan Perez, they broke this story.
Shimon is joining me right now.
Shimon, what have you learned?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So we've learned that the team, the Bob Mueller's investigators, have gone as far back as 2006 in this investigation that now appears to center on possible tax and financial crimes of Paul Manafort. It's one indication of the pressure Mueller's team is placing on the former Trump campaign chairman. We're told that the FBI's warrant for the July search of Manafort's Virginia home says that the investigation centered on possible crimes as far back as January 2006. And the broad time frame shows Mueller's team is going well beyond Russia meddling during the campaign as part of the investigation of Trump campaign associates. Manafort's spokesman has declined to comment for the story, but previously, Manafort has denied any financial wrongdoing -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: And, Shimon, why all the way back to 2006?
PROKUPECZ: So that period, from 2006, sort of into a couple of years that was mentioned in the search warrant covers much of the decade that Manafort worked as a consultant for Ukraine's former ruling party. It's that work that prompted the FBI's interest in Manafort. The party was accused of corruption and the FBI was trying to figure out whether American consultants were involved -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: OK. Shimon, amazing details that you're pulling. Thank you so much for breaking that story and bringing it to me. Really appreciate it.
Joining me now, Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte, of Virginia. He's the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the committee that has oversight duties over the Justice Department.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for coming in.
REP. BOB GOODLATTE, (R), VIRGINIA: Good morning, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Good morning.
What do you make of the Mueller investigation, as Shimon was just laying out, reaching back some 11 years when it comes to Paul Manafort?
GOODLATTE: Well the FBI -- the former FBI director, Mr. Mueller, has a letter from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, that lays out the scope of his investigation. There are some areas of that that are not sharply defined, so his ability to go back that far, if, indeed, that's happening, and I can't confirm if that is happening, would seem to indicate that that's way away from what happened in the 2016 presidential election.
BOLDUAN: And I do want to ask you, because exactly along that line, where the mandate begins and ends for this investigation has been a -- part of a lot of political debate, if nothing more. Do you think this is in line with the mandate of Bob Mueller's investigation?
[11:40:05] GOODLATTE: Well, I think that when you find criminal activity, then I think there's quite a bit of latitude to go and look at that criminal activity. But again, I can only speculate, with regard to that, last week, I, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and John Conyer, as the ranking Democrat on the committee, met with Mr. Mueller as a part of our Oversight Committees to look at what he is doing. I can't comment further, because it was a private meeting, because this is an ongoing investigation. However, we are making sure that we ask the necessary questions regarding the scope of his investigation. And we've also addressed questions to the deputy attorney general, with regard to that.
And as you may know, many members of the Judiciary Committee on my side of the aisle, myself included, believe that the deputy attorney general needs to appoint a second special counsel to look at a number of matters that have not been looked into by the Mueller investigation to the best of our knowledge, related to the activities of Hillary Clinton, of former attorney general, Loretta Lynch, and former FBI director, James Comey, as well as certain aspects of the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC, because, as you know, there are reports that this may have been hacking or it may have been an inside job, which would greatly change the character of the investigation. So, we think that this needs --
BOLDUAN: But as far as the official word --
BOLDUAN: Right, but as far as the official word coming from any government official, though, it's that it was a hack into the DNC. That is at least the latest that I've been told, unless you have any different information.
GOODLATTE: Well, I have lots of reports, that I have seen, and lots of reports that I have seen in the media --
BOLDUAN: Right, but as far as the government and the intelligence agency and that they believe?
GOODLATTE: Well, I think that, certainly, what they have and what they believe is entirely within the scope of what should be considered. But I also think that this needs to be a thorough investigation to satisfy the American people that has been thoroughly and fairly investigated.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, I just want to make sure I get this right. As far as it goes right now, you've met with Mueller, do you have any concerns about the scope or where this investigation is going right now? Are you comfortable with how Mueller is handling it?
GOODLATTE: Everything I know right now indicates that he is acting within his scope and that he is taking that very seriously, but beyond that, I cannot comment. Nor will I rely just upon what I learned from Mr. Mueller. We're also pursuing that with the Department of Justice to make sure that what we understand is taking place is within the scope of his authority.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, you're also part of the informal -- I guess we'll call it, informal working group that Speaker Ryan has put together, to come up with the actual deal that the president struck with Democrats, when it comes to immigration and DACA recipients. What is that deal going to look like?
GOODLATTE: Well, there is no deal until there's a deal. And I think both the president and his chief of staff, General Kelly, have made that clear since that dinner with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. In fact, the chief of staff contacted me the next day to assure me that there was no deal, and that he had laid out all of the enforcement measures, not just border, whether that's a border wall or not, not just border issues, but all of the enforcement issues related to the interior of the country, related to making sure, for example, that legislation that's already passed the House on sanctuary cities, on Kate's law, on gangs --
BOLDUAN: Real quick, because your satellite is about to go down, are you looking at a pathway to citizenship or just protections?
GOODLATTE: We are -- I'm not going to support a pathway to citizenship, for DACA recipients, because that would give them an advantage over people who are law-abiding citizens and who have followed the law in their process of emigrating to the United States. And certainly, I'm not going to support anything unless it includes the full enforcement measures that are so important to make sure, as Speaker Ryan said, this doesn't happen again.
BOLDUAN: Congressman Bob Goodlatte, always appreciate your time. I have many more questions, but we're about to lose your satellite, so we have to let you go. So I appreciate it. It sounds like to me there's a lot of work to be done before that six-month deadline comes that the president has come up with some deal to protect Dreamers.
GOODLATTE: Indeed, Kate.
GOODLATTE: We're working on it and we're ready.
[11:44:39] BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, sir. Please come back on. Appreciate it.
Of course, we're going to go to Washington, unfortunately, to where we have been too many times in the past few weeks. Talking about another monster hurricane. Hurricane Maria, who has been lashing Puerto Rico. Just look at some of the video that has been brought in of what this looked like in the midst of it.
Where is the devastation, how hard was it hit? How many people are going to be without power? The governor there saying that he fears that this is going to be catastrophic, what is left behind, and where it's headed next. That's coming up.
[11:49:34] BOLDUAN: Right now, millions of Americans are left reeling from the most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years.
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BOLDUAN: Hurricane Maria has been lashing the island all morning, even weakening slightly. It still is packing a punch of some 140 miles an hour. It came ashore this morning and Puerto Rico's governor is warning that the damage will be catastrophic. The first images show palm trees stripped bare, root tops peeled back from buildings. More than 10,000 people evacuated their homes and had moved into shelters. One National Hurricane Center forecaster ended up tweeting out he's starting to run out of waves to describe these storms and to describe Maria, just horrifying.
Joining me now from San Juan is the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico, Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon.
Congresswoman, do you hear me?
JENNIFER GONZALEZ-COLON, RESIDENT COMMISSIONER OF PUERTO RICO (via telephone): Yes, I can hear you well.
BOLDUAN: Thank you for jumping on the line. I appreciate it.
What are you seeing there today? What did you witness overnight?
GONZALEZ-COLON: We're still facing it severe winds since 1:00 a.m. in the morning and still heavy rain and severe winds. A lot of rivers have overflowed their banks. Structures are experiencing damages even some that were used as shelters. Transportation and communications are interrupted. Actually, the National Weather Service's radar went offline during the morning. And as this storm moves the direction the winds change. As it came, the winds came from the northeast and as it passed, shift southwesterly, and that impact extends far enough so that the conditions continued after hours had been passed.
Our main concern right now is that 90 percent of the island is without power. And I am afraid in a few hours 100 percent of the island will be without power. And the forecast continues with heavy rains and hazardous conditions for several days afterwards. So that means it's not going to be easy to recover from this and thank god I received the call from Vice President Mike pence last night and the people from FEMA and several agencies saying they will be helping the island this is an issue for not just Puerto Rico but for the Virgin Islands.
This is third time in less than a month the hurricane make landfall on the U.S. in the last month. So this is going to be -- Congress must take action in September. We will need another relief package or infrastructure of power services and power grid are weak. And fragile. We are not having service since 1:00 a.m. In the morning. A week ago, Puerto Rico was helping the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands with relief and relocation.
Now we are the ones that we need to take care of. Of course, we're going to get ahead of this. We're going to get stronger after this, but still under a lot of rain, a lot of flooding. A lot of damages in the infrastructure. So that means we've got more than five of the biggest rivers on the island overflowing their own banks.
BOLDUAN: I'm sure it's not even to a point where you can get a scope and assessment of what the damage is going to be. Not just from this but you're still dealing with the follow-up from Irma. You first deal with Irma. And it wasn't even a direct hit and it still knocked out power to much of the island and hurt and created a lot of damage. How do you make sense then of another even more powerful storm hitting it right on its heels?
GONZALEZ-COLON: Actually, this is had the worst and scariest hurricane since 1928. In 1928, we got a hurricane that where 5,000 people lost their lives. And right now, we're still managing. Property, you can recall the property. But life? Those are the important things. And that's the reason rescue teams and people who came from the states to help us out from the Department of Defense, from FEMA, Coast Guard. And even from some states are waiting till this hurricane passes to go out and rescue and search for people. I mean, we've got a construction code that is complete, but most of the people here, poor people live in wooden houses. That wooden houses will never resist the kind of winds and severe conditions we are experiencing right now. And that's the main problem. Roads, our communications, our power grid is so, frankly, we don't have that at this time. Actually, some of the communication powers wen offline for a period of time this morning. And we expect to have that in the afternoon, even when the hurricane winds stop this evening, we can't get out. There's a lot of raining and hazardous condition outside to remove the debris and know what's going on in the municipalities.
[11:55:11] BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, thank you so much. Good luck and stay safe. We'll be in touch and watch the recovery closely as the storm moves past. Really appreciate it.
I want to take us quickly though to other natural disasters we've been watching. A recovery effort, we hope a recovery effort, under way right now at an elementary school in Mexico City. It's southeast of the city center. We've been watching this throughout the hour. It's been tedious work. We're keeping an eye. We see activity there. We'll bring you an update, coming up.
[12:00:08] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.