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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
U.S. Officials Kim Jong-un Preparing Next Missile Test; Trump Calls Kim A "Madman" After Kim Calls Him "Deranged"; New GOP Health Care Bill One Vote Away From Falling; Pence: A Vote Against GOP Bill Is A Vote To Save ObamaCare; Twitter To Meet With Senate Intel Committee On Russia Probe. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 22, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST:
Plus breaking news, John McCain is defying the president again, saying he is a "no" on the Republican healthcare bill. The plan now one vote away from doing it.
And more breaking news this hour, 70,000 people in Puerto Rico urged to evacuate now, their lives in immediate danger from a major imminent dam break. We're live in Puerto Rico tonight.
Let's go OutFront.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. The breaking news, President Trump is about to take the stage at a rally. The world watching to hear if he responds to North Korea's threat of nuclear war.
Kim Jong-un's North Korea making an unprecedented and history-making threat to detonate a nuclear bomb over the Pacific Ocean. President Trump responding on Twitter, "Kim Jong-un of North Korea, he was obviously a mad man who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before.
So North Korea threatens a nuclear bomb in the air, President Trump threatens to test Kim like never before. Certainly when it comes to words, it is already a war and could be bringing us militarily to brink of one. Some say nuclear tensions have not been this high since the Cuban missile crisis 55 years ago. Here is North Korea's foreign minister here in New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RI YONG HO, North Korean Foreign Minister: I think this could probably mean the strongest ever hydrogen bomb test on or above the Pacific Ocean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The strongest ever nuclear bomb test. Here are the facts. No country has exploded a nuclear bomb above ground in 37 years. There's a reason for that, such a test is against humanity. It would unleash the deadly effects of radioactive fallout on human beings, and this test could mean all out nuclear war. MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: begins our coverage OutFront tonight at the State Department. Michelle, this threat is different. It is far more serious than the typical blaster.
It is and you see this back and forth name calling, those kinds of threats are one thing, seen by many as juvenile or not helpful or, you know, just contributing to the bad situation. But the kind of threat that we just heard from North Korea's foreign minister is something else entirely and just the way they did it.
I mean, leader Kim Jong-un put up his angry diatribe excoriating President Trump but they had the foreign minister float out this threat of exploding that hydrogen bomb. So what we hear from President Trump when he was at the U.N. is that he starts with the "rocket man" name calling, he starts with the possibility of the U.S. completely destroying North Korea.
But then when you hear the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, I mean, today in an interview when he was ask if North Korea did do such a test, what would the U.S. do. The first words out of Tillerson's mouth are, we would continue in the diplomatic arena, and yes, military options are on the table. And when he was pressed on it he says, well, the president would have to decide.
So what we see is the way the administration is framing this. They want the president and at times the secretary of defense to put out the tough talk and the possibility of military action. Even though President Trump has said, you know, he's let the door open at least for down the road talks with Kim Jong-un.
But then, they want the secretary of state to be the one to focus on diplomacy, and sometimes the State Department even views it as a long game saying, it could take a long time for sanctions to work. And there's still more room for other sanctions. So that covers the basis here but it doesn't always make to the most consistent message from this administration to say the least, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Michelle, thank you very much. And of course, something like this simply the United States cannot allow it to happen. That's the way it goes so you're going to talk about how you're going to be shooting out of the sky. This is something that is a whole different thing than just attack.
We are waiting to see if President Trump responds to this threat at this rally that begins momentarily. And while awaiting that, Jeff Zeleny is OutFront live at the White House, and Jeff, this is a big question whether he's going to come out and verbally up the rhetoric here. Already today on Twitter calling Kim Jong-un a madman.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, good evening. I believe that the president will indeed vocalize what he's been talking about on Twitter earlier in the day. The reality here is that the president (INAUDIBLE) as Michelle was talking about, about the -- at the United Nations really facing two nuclear confrontations with Iran on one hand and North Korea on the other. But the president without question is focused on North Korea. And this is in one respect, mano-a-mano with Kim Jong-un and the president.
So I am looking for him to address this tonight in Alabama. But earlier today, he telegraph what he may talk about in an early morning tweet as he often does. Let's look at this. Erin, he said this.
He said that, "Kim Jong-un of North Korea who is obviously a madman doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before." So that of course is more of the rhetoric that we heard earlier in the week before he move toward sanctions and other matters.
[19:05:04] But the point here is, Erin, this is a brinkmanship in one level, the reality though is that this back and forth between the two leaders is not likely as important as his advisers believed as those sanctions that the president announced yesterday. They do believe that those could actually have some type of effect. So watch for the president tonight.
I am told by one adviser, they said he may ad lib, he may whatever but they advised, he will talk tonight about North Korea. Erin?
BURNETT: And of course all that will depend upon whether it's in the prompter or not. Thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny. I mean, that's the big question here and it all really matters as this point.
And OutFront now, former Air Force colonel, Cedric Leighton who's a former member of the Joints Chief of Staffs, also served in the Korean Peninsular, Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling who is former commanding general for Europe, and Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On The World".
Colonel, let me start with you, North Korea now threatening to test in their words the strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean. Just to make sure we emphasize this again, this would be the first nuclear weapon detonated above ground in nearly 40 years on this planet. There's a reason people stop doing it, it can kill people. This would be unprecedented.
RET. COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: This would certainly be unprecedented, Erin. It will be one of the most heinous acts when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation. It would also be one of the biggest issues that the United States would have to deal with in, not only East Asia but globally.
But we're talking about the total dilation and essence of the whole non-proliferation regime. And what that means is that all of a sudden we put ourselves at risk and not only from a nuclear standpoint but also from a safety and security standpoint for everybody in our society. And that is really what this is all about.
BURNETT: So General, what would happen if Kim Jong-un does this?
RET. LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Erin, there will be probably about 20 different scenarios of how it might happen. If he does it, it would depend on what he does. The indicators are that they're claiming they can put it on a missile, shoot it somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic or entire the Pacific and have it explode.
Now he's added an atmospheric explosion? Is it a surface explosion, is he putting it on a boat and shipping it out there? Is he having a test on the Korean Peninsula? All of those things would generate different reactions.
If it was an atmospheric test as an example and he didn't tell anyone he was going to do it, it could knock airplanes out of the sky, it could cause ships at sea to be -- to lose their di system, it could cause fallout with radioactive particles. So, you know, you could go down the list of all the things that would happen but it will depend on what kind of blast it was.
And talking -- Cedric just mentioned about non-proliferation, the interesting piece is, that North Korea is not a signatory to any treaty on non-proliferation. So their act would not necessarily be an act of war, it would just be a test. A whole (INAUDIBLE) in the first place and it might provoke action and reaction but it is not an act of war.
BURNETT: And Gordon, I guess the big question is, whether Kim Jong-un will do it.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": You know, it sounds so unbelievable but in the beginning of the month I actually was writing about whether he would do this. And the reason is (INAUDIBLE) for him.
You know, a lot of people have been saying, you know, Kim doesn't have all the capabilities. He hasn't integrated them into a real weapon. This would be a proof that it actually works and that he has not only deterrent but something to blackmail the rest of the international community.
The one reason why he might not do this is that the sanctions yesterday that Colonel Leighton talked about, you know, are so corrosive that it could actually move China to move North Korea. And that could be -- will change Kim's calculus. But absent those sanctions, I think he'd may well go forward.
BURNETT: General, will the United States have any chance but to respond to it militarily, right? And there's been so much blaster but, you know, they shoot a missile over Japan and nobody does anything about it, OK? But if it's doing something like this, can United States allowed it to happen? I mean, first of all, well, we have the ability but do you shoot it down. I mean, you're talking about a very possible rapid escalation and a different sort of response than we've seen before.
HERTLING: Again, Erin, I just say it would depend on the situation. If this was an unwarned test that they just shot it like they've shot so many other missiles and they did have a nuclear tip of warhead, and it did explode and perhaps do all the things I talked about earlier, and even kill some people because of it and it was unwarned. Yes, it would probably be a response and Kim would be an increasing (INAUDIBLE) on the world stage. If they notified everybody they were going to do it and they exploded in above ground test on the Korean Peninsula, it might cause some other type of reaction if they're doing it just within North Korean territory.
So again, I could think of a hundred different options that would cause different reactions but yes, in any case, it's going to be increasingly provocative and cause us, the United States and the rest of the world community to do different things.
[19:10:03] BURNETT: I mean, quoting there are some who are saying that, you know, you got to go back to 1955 and the missile crisis to get anywhere close to what we are getting close to now. Do you agree?
LEIGHTON: Well, I think its' pretty close to the Cuban missile crisis and you know that horror atmosphere that we have back in that time. We are definitely not there yet. But, one miscalculation and any of the scenarios that General Hertling pointed out, we could find ourselves in a situation that's very close to what happen with John F. Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis in '62.
BURNETT: And now, Gordon, you know, Michelle mentioned this, a personal attack. And then on some level you can dismiss them when they're from Kim, they're often absurd and ridiculous and one (INAUDIBLE) from President Trump sometimes they can be verge on that as well, and people sort of can dismiss them. But they do seem to be a big part of this, OK. The way that you (INAUDIBLE) and then a real threat of action.
Kim Jong-un's North Korea has called President Trump, a load of nonsense, bereft of reason, a barking dog, mentally deranged and a dotard which is a senile old person. President Trump has called Kim sort of a wacko, a maniac sitting there, a bad dude, rocket man, and today, a madman.
As I said, you kind of choke when you hear this but words seem to matter now.
CHANG: Well, you know, words matter in a way that we don't think and that is that yesterday President Trump had a great day with the announcement of these sanctions. What we should be talking about now is how to cutoff money to North Korea. And that should be a conversation not just in the United States, not just in China, but around the world. But we're not, we're talking about this escalation of these tweets and of course all of these derogatory comments on mental health.
So, no, it's not a good thing for Trump.
BURNETT: No, and General, before we go, you got North Korea going to speak in front of the U.N. tomorrow, you have President Trump about to speak at a rally tonight. These are two crucial opportunities where the calculus can change again.
HERTLING: Yes, and we've said many times that we can -- we should be controlling the temper on this, Erin. And going to your comment, we know North Korea has used this kind of terms before. They called the first female president of South Korea, a prostitute, they called Obama a racist term, they called him a monkey. So we're used to this kind of step from North Korea.
The problem is, we got the immaturity now on our side that's not helpful to this situation and not ratcheting things back.
BURNETT: And that is what is completely new. What will change all of this? Thank you very much all of you.
And next, breaking news, John McCain says no to the Republican healthcare bill. It's the last attempt to kill ObamaCare, now dead.
Plus, President Trump paddling Russian-linked Facebook ads a hoax. But are the ads which could have influence the election just a tip of the iceberg.
And breaking news this hour from Puerto Rico, an urgent warning to residents who are still there and unable to really move anywhere and no power, they're told to get out. A dam at imminent risk of breaks. We're live in San Juan.
[19:16:45] BURNETT: Tonight, the verge of the peak. Republican's last ditch attempt to repeal ObamaCare on the verge of collapse. Once again, thanks to Senator John McCain.
The bill from Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, one vote away at this hour from failing after McCain announced his opposition. McCain saying in part, quote, a bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach. I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham- Cassidy proposal.
Ryan Nobles is OutFront on Capitol Hill, and Ryan, one vote, one vote away from success or failure.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. It's a -- there's very little room for Senate Republicans right now and this bill is on a path that is filled with potential roadblocks. We know for sure that Rand Paul of Kentucky and now, John McCain of Arizona are no votes on the Graham-Cassidy bill. But there's still more than a dozen Senate Republicans who have said they're undecided and there are two in particular, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska who's public indications about this bill seem to part of the fact that they are going to lean no when it comes to their final verdict on this particular piece of legislation.
It seems unlikely that this bill has any shot at passing the Senate so right now we're wondering if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will even bring the bill to a vote on Monday or some time this week. There's a good chance that perhaps Susan Collins announces her support or her opposition to this bill when she goes around a Sunday talk show interviews including CNN's State of the Union on Sunday.
As for Lisa Murkowski, we're told that she's continuing to review the proposal and see its specific impact on Alaska. But, Erin, the short answer here is that this bill has a very unlikely chance of ever passing here in the U.S. Congress. BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Ryan. And now, our senior political analyst Mark Preston, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks April Ryan also here.
Mark, I mean, it's pretty stunning right this came up skillfully, they have takes on such a repetitional hit by the failure of effort after effort to do this. So they try again and John McCain could be the guy who just killed the GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare again.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and you know what? He feels pretty good about it in the sense that he owes nobody nothing. You know, this is the John McCain and April and Erin I'm sure you remember, if you go back years, he was the maverick, he was the one who always back this leadership when he felt that they weren't going in the right direction. In this case, mostly backing this leadership but he's also backing his best friend, Lindsey Graham.
They're not in a good position right now, Erin going into the weekend with momentum coming out a little bit as opposed to gaining momentum as they head into next week.
BURNETT: And April, a senior administration official told CNN today that White House aides know that Trump's sway with a lot of Republicans this week, right? So the White House is actually hoping Lindsey Graham's friendship with John McCain would win him over. And clearly, that was a complete miscalculation.
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, when it comes to John McCain, he is going to do what he's going to do and he's shown that he is not (INAUDIBLE) necessarily just like Mark said. But at the same time, you have to really look at just the reality of this.
This is a man who is battling for his life, and he is a man who is -- who has an illness that really could -- ultimately he could succumb to. If he understands that he can pay for this great treatment that he's getting right now but there are others who can't.
[19:20:08] And as issue, he did not feel confident to vote on something that he does not know the (INAUDIBLE) or the negatives of. There's no CBO score and this administration always talks about their hate of the Obama administration efforts with ObamaCare. But one thing ObamaCare do have when it was in the process, it had a CBO score.
BURNETT: And Mark, that's a crucial thing and, you know, clearly -- and that take weeks, right. They only have really until the end of next week before this becomes from a voting perspective virtually impossible for them to do.
The vice president though is still trying here, Mark tonight. He is trying that, you know, basically, if you aren't voting to repeal ObamaCare, you're voting to save it. You're going to be on record as being an ObamaCare person which of course as an anathema for many Republican-based voters. Here's how the vice president put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot in good conscience abandon this cause. The American people are hurting. As President Trump has made clear, inaction is not an option.
And let me be clear, a vote against Graham-Cassidy is a vote to save ObamaCare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Will this work on anyone at this point, Mark? They try this every time, and by the way, it hasn't work yet.
PRESTON: I don't think so. But, you know, Mike Pence is in the position, (INAUDIBLE) position of still trying to sell this as its losing support, you know, at this point. You know, that comment in many ways was directed at John McCain and it was directed at Rand Paul because we already know that they are nos when it comes to this specific bill.
But to really try to paint it in very stark terms, if you do not support this specific bill, that means you support ObamaCare. That's unnecessarily true but that is what the White House thinks that they need to do at this point to try to get something done. But, Erin you're right, it's not enough to force the light to Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to come along just by idle threats.
BURNETT: And of course you know April we can talk all we want about Republicans in Congress, right? But the box stops at the president. And today, the president doesn't -- he doesn't want this painting and he's slamming his own party. He went on Twitter, "Rand Paul", he writes, "or whoever votes against healthcare bill will forever future political campaigns be known as the Republican who saved ObamaCare".
Right, he's trying to blame them in Congress, he's trying to threaten them as losing their seats. But let's just be clear, April. He puts his own legacy, his own reputation on the line on this. Here he is on the many times he promised the Republican base he was going to end ObamaCare on day one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will also repeal and replace the total disaster known as ObamaCare.
We're going to stop it day one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right, so, April, who's going to take the blame for this? The president or he's going to successfully pin it on Rand Paul, John McCain and other Republicans.
RYAN: Well, if what we've seen in the past two months is indicative of what he will do, there's a blame game, he will blame others. But I think of a rapper right now, Sean "Diddy" Combs when he says can't stop, won't stop. This president is not going to stop with this. He's going to continue, it's about his base but it's also about the fact that he does not want to fail.
He does not look like he's failed. But you have to remember this, everybody in all sides are saying, that there needs to be tweaks, there needs to be some kind of change. But to totally abolish it and then come with something that hurts people, that's the question. And Erin, I want to share something with you, today, at the Congressional Black Caucus and the Black Women's Agenda on luncheon, 5,000 women were in that room, African-American mostly, and when Congresswoman Joyce Beaty and others got up and started talking about what John McCain had done, there was a standing ovation. That, you know, you know, there's a chance that ACA could stay.
People are hurting and they want to make sure that they have healthcare. I mean, and they want to make sure it's reliable. And this president seems to be not listening to the list of this who really need the help.
BURNETT: Pre-existing conditions and caps, maybe the things that cost the most, make at least financial size. But, they're there and people want them and (INAUDIBLE) to many, seemingly inhumane remove them. Thank you both so very much.
On Monday night, a special event here on CNN, Senators Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar debating Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy on healthcare. That's Monday night at 9.
And OutFront next, the breaking news, the Russian billionaire close to Putin responding to the report he was offered private briefings on the election by the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
And breaking news, Americans (INAUDIBLE) from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, confronting at this moment an imminent and dire danger. A warning tonight of a massive fail.
[19:28:14] BURNETT: Breaking news, Russian oligarch and Kremlin insider Oleg Deripaska says he had not spoken to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in years. Responding to the Washington Post (INAUDIBLE) report that Manafort offered to give Deripaska private briefings on the election.
Now Deripaska's spokeswoman tells OutFront, quote, Mr. Depiraska never received any communication about it. Mr. Depiraska has not spoken to Mr. Manafort since at least 2012.
That denial that Oleg Deripaska even knew Manafort was offering the special briefings comes as we are learning more about how Russia used social media like Facebook and Twitter to interfere in the election.
Senior reporter Dylan Byers is OutFront, and Dylan, Twitter is now going to be meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee next week, and what is Twitter going to say not that they're feet are being held to the fire? DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICS REPORTER: That's right. They'll be meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Now that meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday.
What they'll be telling Senate Intel is exactly what Facebook told Senate Intel which is the full extent of what they know when it comes to how Russian actors may have been using their platform to meddle in American politics, probably around the same time span between 2015 through November 8, 2016 and even into this year. I think what's happening right now is Twitter is looking at what Facebook did which was sort of a limited scope of the full picture in terms of its meeting the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Twitter is probably going to be a lot more forthcoming. It doesn't want to face the same sort of public blow back that Facebook faced after not being totally forthcoming with Congress.
BURNETT: All right, and of course, you know, Drew Griffin talked about what (INAUDIBLE) are more, you know, on Twitter, sort of Russian (INAUDIBLE) that had up to 600,000 powers so certainly influential there. I mean, Dylan, when you look at this, this is all very significant for Facebook, for Twitter. Are there more shoes to drop?
When you look at this, this is all very significant for Facebook, for Twitter. Are there more shoes to drop?
DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICS REPORTER: Yes. You have to assume there are more shoes to drop and the reason, every conversation that I've had with my sources at Facebook, at Twitter, what they all acknowledge is that no one knows the full scope of this issue. It's really the tip of the iceberg as Senator Mark Warner said.
You know, I spoke to one person on Facebook, they say we don't know what we don't know. And the issue here is that so much of what's traceable in terms of how these actors influence the ad platform, it has to do with low-hanging fruit. It's what you can easily identify, things that were obviously Russian, Russian keyboards, Russian IP addresses. It's going to be a lot harder to find stuff that may have been more sophisticated.
BURNETT: Right. And we can only imagine, that was plenty of that as well. All right. Dylan, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, the form director of national intelligence, retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force, James Clapper, who knows more about all this than almost anyone out there.
Director Clapper, thanks so much for your time.
You know, Senator Mark Warner told me Facebook's Russian ads are just the tip of the iceberg in his view. Do you agree?
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I do. In fact, I use that same characterization couple of days ago when I first heard about this, because we did address this in our intelligence community assessment that we published on the 6th of January, and then briefed to then-President-elect Trump at Trump Tower about this. The use of social media trolls, which, of course, will be masked or were masked, that's why it's going to be difficult for the companies to know the full extent of how much this technique was used. But this was part of the multifaceted campaign that the Russians used.
So, I think Mark Warner's characterization is exactly right.
BURNETT: And, Director, when you briefed the president, just to give you chance to talk about that moment, what was his full attitude? When you said this? Did he have disdain and blow it off or was he more receptive and concerned and private that he is in public?
CLAPPER: When we briefed him, if you're speaking of that briefing on the 6th of January, he was very solicitous, curious, even complimentary and he did listen. And frankly, the evidence that we provided in detail which, of course, we couldn't expose publicly, was pretty overwhelming. It's why we had such a high confidence level in what we said in that assessment.
And so, I thought it was a good discussion. He had some doubts about some things, but that's fine to be skeptical about some things. But on balance, I thought we successfully conveyed the message because the evidence -- substantiating evidence was quite compelling and we didn't hear anything about the 400-pound guy in his bed in New Jersey.
BURNETT: Right. Which is, you know, and I think very important as you said, because I think obviously when he says publicly is different than what you're describing, which is sort of the way you want an incoming president to respond, to be courteous and receptive and listen.
CLAPPER: I have to say, Erin, if I may, I think what this was maybe the first or early harbinger of what I think really motivated him is our intelligence community assessment did I think serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election, and I think that above all else is what concerned him. I think that transcends, unfortunately, the real concern here was, which is Russian interference in our political process, which, by the way, is going to continue.
BURNETT: So, there are many big questions here. One of them director is this, right? And that is, was there any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russians on this voter targeting, right? We know Russians were doing it on Facebook. We know they were doing it on Twitter. Our Drew Griffin reported 600,000 followers for just 50 Twitter accounts.
You know, there was a great report, I don't know if you saw it, but son-in-law Jared Kushner actually gave an interview and described in detail how he was trained how to use micro-targeting on Facebook, specifically for voter targeting, right? He was proud of this. He told Forbes that just weeks after Trump had the nomination, that he built a 100 person data hub, that's how he described it, with the expressed goal of targeting supporters. They went -- they got a warehouse in Austin, Texas, and this is what they did.
Do you, from what you know or what you believe, think at this point that there was any sharing of information between the Trump campaign, anybody who would have known about that targeting, and Russian trolls or bots or Russians who did targeting also on social media?
CLAPPER: Well, as I've said before, we had nothing in the intelligence community assessment that spoke to collusion, political collusion between the Trump campaign, the Trump camp and the Russians. We didn't have any evidence of that at the time. We also didn't have the -- a lot of the detail that's emerged since we did our assessment.
[19:35:05] I do wonder, I don't have any basis for this, but I do wonder about, you know, a technique that was used very successfully in the Obama campaigns, which is this detailed analysis on a precinct by precinct basis. And that kind of insight I think would be very difficult for the Russians to come by on their own.
BURNETT: And so, what you're saying is somebody, somebody, helped them or they could have hacked or are you not saying which?
CLAPPER: Well, I don't want to say that, because I don't have any evidence that as I said before, when I left office on January 20th, there was not any evidence available to me as DNI of collusion between the Trump camp, Trump campaign and the Russians. I mean, there were things that bothered us. The frequency of the meetings that representatives of the president-elect and before him candidate Trump were having with the Russians, for example, and other foreign emissaries.
But in terms of specific substance of what was going on, we didn't have much insight into that, at the time I left office.
BURNETT: And now, Director, I want to ask you about Oleg Deripaska, of course, the oligarch who, of course, is close enough with the Kremlin that he is able to come to the United States when he does on a diplomatic passport because he's not able to get any other kind of visa. You just heard our reporting. He tells our show he did not receive any communication from Paul Manafort offering to brief him. In fact, he says he hasn't spoken to Manafort since at least 2012.
That "Washington Post" report was frankly stunning, right? That Manafort was offering to brief a Russian oligarch, who's close enough to the Kremlin that he can get a diplomatic waiver. Do you believe Oleg Deripaska, that he never even knew that Manafort was offering to brief him?
CLAPPER: Well, I don't have any insight here. No inside baseball information on -- insight into this at all. I have to say that I when I heard the initial reporting, I could not conceive of why Paul Manafort would offer insight into the Trump campaign to the Russians, particularly to an oligarch, that who undoubtedly connected with Putin.
And, of course, the Russians, it's almost in their genes. They're all inherently intelligent people and they look for opportunities, certainly with the United States, to exert -- create and exert leverage. Now, you know, I don't, I can't resolve this issue of, you know, who shot John here, whether it actually happened or not, but if it did, it's pretty deserving.
BURNETT: All right. Director, thank you very much. I appreciate your time, as always. Thanks so much.
CLAPPER: Thank you, Erin.
And next, the breaking news from Puerto Rico. A dam failing, threatening the lives of tens of thousands of people who are already under siege, without power, without communication from Hurricane Maria.
And President Trump moments away from taking the stage for a rally in Alabama. You just saw him getting off Air Force One as I was talking to Director Clapper. Why are Trump's former aides fighting for the challenger in the crucial race?
[19:42:17] BURNETT: Breaking news: a serious, new and life threatening crisis emerging tonight. Nearly 100,000 Americans in danger at this hour. There's a dam west of the Puerto Rico capital of San Juan which is now failing. Torrents of water right now are rushing towards several towns nearby.
This threat coming as 3 million people are without power in Puerto Rico. It is now getting to the point of a health crisis. There's a limited supply of food, fuel and water and no communication still for so much of that island.
Nick Valencia is OUTFRONT. He is in San Juan.
Nick, this is a crisis here, by any amount here. You're talking a humanitarian crisis. What are you learning about the dam right now?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, this is an extremely dangerous situation, as if this island territory has not already been through enough this last week. Now, 70,000 residents in two townships are at risk of this dam potentially failing. The Guajataca Dam in northwest part of the islands, we understand local engineers reportedly found a crack in this dam, causing them so much concern that they brought in buses to try to evacuate those that cannot evacuate themselves. We understand those ongoing evacuations are continuing at this hour.
And as if this wasn't bad enough, it was earlier today between about 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. that this community was just pounded with heavy rain, lightning and thunder. It was three days ago that Hurricane Maria made landfall here in Puerto Rico, and this storm system was so big that here we are nearly three days later and we're still dealing with severe weather conditions. It was day ago that our team was able to get out into the community.
And what we saw was just catastrophic damage to the infrastructure. Gas stations under water. Communication down. Cell phone towers down.
The mayor told me she's trying to set a tone for her residents to deal with the lack of modern life, expecting them to be without power for up to six months -- Erin.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Nick Valencia.
And joining me now on the phone is the Puerto Rican secretary of state, Luis Gerardo Rivera Marin.
Secretary, thank you so very much.
I mean, it is hard to comprehend what we're hearing here. Six months without power. You are talking about living without modern life and outside of modern life. I know the governor is heading to the dam. You have been talking to everyone on the ground.
How bad is that situation at this moment, Secretary?
SECRETARY LUIS GERARDO RIVERA MARIN, PUERTO RICO (via telephone): Very delicate situation whereby experts have issued an imminent danger advisory. In terms of all communities leaving one of our largest dams in the island, the Guajataca Dam.
It is, we were beat up first by Irma, and we were just recovering from Irma, when we were struck a direct hit of Maria, and then we were struck by ferocious winds and thereafter, monumental rain as the National Weather Service (INAUDIBLE) it was the rain, the greatest danger.
[19:45:10] We rescue yesterday and the day before, close to 2,000 families from flooded areas and now, because of the heavy volumes and the dam, there's structural damage in the communities right now in these communities, making sure that it is all evacuated, all the communities downstream of the dam. And it is in the blackness of the night because we have a lack of energy, especially in the mountain side, where the winds were higher speed and most structures where wooden houses with tin roofs that were just destroyed.
BURNETT: Secretary, when you talk about this, I mean, you are about people going back to a prehistoric time. Six months with no power. Lack of communication for pretty much everybody. It's rare we can get through to people. We're lucky to get through to you. Shortages of food, shortages water.
Is this a humanitarian -- is it is really difficult to put words around that. Six months with no power. This is the United States of America.
RIVERA MARIN: Certainly. We are facing great (INAUDIBLE) and we were just getting our energy back and many of our supplies in terms of power lines and switches and all the materials we needed to get our power back were used recovering for Irma. We're receiving right now, the largest from FEMA with supplies and President Trump has signed a disaster zone for the island. Certainly, it's going the take a lot of effort, but Puerto Rico is a
resilient committee and we've never seen this before. This is not a century, but an historic event and communications certainly are a challenge because first responders, we're going back to the basics, and we are relying on the UHF and patrol cars relaying information to the countryside, which is the only communication channel that we have opened.
All the wireless is down. Internet is down. And certainly, it's been a challenge and it will be a challenge for the coming months, but we're ready to stand up and be receiving any help you can log in to UnitedforPuertoRico.com. And give us a hand in recovery.
BURNETT: OK. All right. Well, I hope everyone heard that. UnitedforPuertoRico.com.
And thank you so very much, Secretary Rivera Marin.
And next the breaking news, moments away, President Trump going to address a crucial rally in Alabama's hotly contested Senate race and we expect will talk about North Korea.
And Trump's Twitter addiction, is it helping him?
[19:51:52] BURNETT: Breaking news, these are live pictures. You are looking at Huntsville, Alabama. President Trump is there, and in a couple of moments, he is going to be on that stage speaking at a campaign rally for Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange. Obviously, we also expect him to comment on Korea, and what this means though in terms of this race and it's an important one, is that Trump is now on the opposing side of the former top aides like Steve Bannon.
Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the race in the final stretch, the candidates are bringing out the big guns. Judge Roy Moore appearing with Sarah Palin and former White House terror adviser Sebastian Gorka.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: This isn't a campaign. This is a movement. Enough is enough. The status quo has got to go.
MARQUARDT: Draining the swamp is so central to President Trump's campaign, but now, the president is appearing tonight with former Washington lobbyist and interim Senator Luther Strange, who has been backed with millions of dollars from a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
STEVE FLOWERS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The irony is that most of the voters who are supporting Moore are Trump supporters, you know? And I don't think that they are going to be coming off of Moore because Trump says to. MARQUARDT: The race also pits Trump against former senior adviser
Steve Bannon whose Website "Breitbart" has launched a crusade against Strange in the days leading up to Tuesday's vote, ahead of which the candidate's faceoff on Thursday in a testy debate. Strange reminding voters time and time again that he is the president's man.
SEN. LUTHER STRANGE (R), ALABAMA: We have a close personal relationship and I have supported him 100 percent of the time. And that's why the president endorsed me.
MARQUARDT: Moore, in turn, blasting Strange's Washington connections, but made it clear the president on core issues like the wall, deporting Dreamers and kicking transgender people out of the military.
ROY MOORE, FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE OF ALABAMA SUPREME COURT: The problem is, President Trump is being cut off in his office. He's being redirected by people like McConnell who do not support his agenda.
MARQUARDT: The White House and the Republican leadership know that he could be a major headache and many are afraid he'll paint them with his far-right brush. As chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Moore was twice taken off of the bench, first, for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments monument that he had installed in the building, then suspended for going against the Supreme Court's ruling on same sex marriage.
MOORE: I'm not unreasonable.
MARQUARDT: He suggested that 9/11 happened because Americans turned away from God, and just this week was accused of racially insensitive remarks, saying, now we have whites and blacks fighting, reds and yellows fighting.
On Thursday night, he repeated and defended the line.
MOORE: I was talking about the division in our society, black and white, red and yellow. They are so politically correct, they have become politically stupid.
MARQUARDT: Judge Moore there railing against political correctness, yet another thing that he and President Trump and their supporters have in common. But here we are waiting for the president to throw his weight behind Luther Strange.
[19:55:00] I spoke with Senator Strange earlier to today. He said he is excited for this rally, but planning for this to come down to the turnout, and right now, the turnout is expected to favor Moore.
Senator Strange clearly hoping that the president can change that in his favor. This is likely his last best hope -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Alex, thank you very much.
Obviously, a crucial race there and, of course, as I said, we're also going to be watching what the president says on North Korea at any moment.
Meanwhile, next, the book of Trump, his Twitter. Wait until you see it.
BURNETT: President Trump wakes up and hits the Twitter. And a new CNN special report tonight reveals that his Twitter habit actually provides a treasure trove of information to enemies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, HOST, "TWITTER & TRUMP": When it comes to the American adversaries in Pyongyang or Moscow, following Donald Trump on Twitter, and what worries you the most?
MICHAEL HYADEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: If I'm the head of a hostile or even friendly intelligence service, I have a new office over here, and follow that account. Tell me what this man is saying. It's tremendously revealing.
We know the president's hot buttons, we know his vulnerabilities, we know what upsets him, we know what he demands from his subordinates. We even know his sleep patterns based upon his Twitter usage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Bill Weir is with me.
And, Bill, look, we all know that Trump loves Twitter and he uses to reach out to his supporters and also, he uses it as a weapon, right?
WEIR: Absolutely. In fact, and it is interesting how that happened. These, we had printed for you, Erin, as a souvenir for the show, and these are the collective tweets of Donald Trump, and not all of them. They only go up to about a month and a half ago because we have been bumped a few times, and we did this so we'd have a physical reminder that they will be studied for generations.
And when he started way, way back in the early days, back in genesis over here, it was all promotional stuff, very light, maybe some deep thoughts, motivational sayings, and no one paid attention. Donald Trump's first tweet got four reactions. The most important social media account of our times, four people didn't care.
It wasn't until he started using Twitter as weapon to attack celebrities, to going after Kristen Stewart for cheating on Robert Pattinson, when he started to see suddenly that Pavlovian response of likes and retweets and he ramped it up from there. And, of course, he also uses it as a shield, and we saw both today.
You know, his favorite word, 9 percent of his tweets since the inauguration contain the word "fake" as in fake news, which he used today, talking about the Facebook Russia story. He said crooked Hillary again. So, he uses it as a weapon and shield to diminish those who are coming after him. BURNETT: I think you pointed it out that it is safe to say that book
is going to be one of the important ones of our time.
Thank you so much.
WEIR: You are welcome.
BURNETT: And don't miss "Twitter and Trump". It's tonight at 9:00.
Anderson is next.