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NBA's Warriors Respond To Trump Pulling White House Invite; North Korea Foreign Minister Slams Trump; Latest Earthquake News from Mexico. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 23, 2017 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taliban is making it more difficult for police to target traffickers. In return, the drug traffickers are financially supporting the Taliban and logistically supporting the Taliban.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: "DECLASSIFIED," it airs tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with us, I am Ana Cabrera in New York. We begin with President Trump escalating attack on America's most powerful sports league and a growing backlash from some top athlete. The President is calling out football players who kneel during the National Anthem.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Would you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag to say, get that son of a (bleep) out of the field right now out, he's fired. He's fired!


CABRERA: President Trump ramping up his attack on Twitter. And I quote, "If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL or other league, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our great American flag or country and should stand for the National Anthem, if not you're fired. Find something else to do."

Then the President turned his eye to the NBA's reigning champion, the Golden State Warriors. Trump disinvited Steph Curry from the traditional White House visit for league winners only after Curry had turned down the invitation. The President tweeted this, going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating therefore, his invitation is withdrawn.

Now, the Golden State Warriors have responded. Just within the last hour or so, and I quote, "In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we'll constructively use our trip to the nation's capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion."

Let's get right out to White House correspondent Athena Jones. So, Athena, the President doubles down, what are you hearing from NFL team owners? ATHENA JONES, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Well, there is a

lot of consternation and a strong backlash to the President's remarks, not only their remark last night calling this mostly black NFL players, son of bees which is of course an insult to the players and insult to their mothers. It is leading a lot of people on twitter to ask why he is picking these fights with black professional athletes.

And why they didn't see the same sort of passion from him condemning the marchers, the neo-Nazis and KKK supporters in Charlottesville who were exercising their free speech rights. Why didn't they see that kind of passion from the President early last month that they saw last night in reference to these black players. And here is a news statement that we are getting now from the owners of the New York Giants John Mara and Steve Tisch.

Here is their statement. It says, "Comments likely heard last night from the President are inappropriate, offensive and divisive. We are proud of our players. The vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society." Now, those remarks from the owners for the New York Giants coming after a statement earlier today from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Now, in Goodell's statement, he doesn't explicitly name the President but it's clear who he's talking about. Here is part of Goodell's statement from earlier. He said, "The NFL and our players are at our best when we hope to create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we have experienced over the last month."

That's of course a referencing to players like J.J. Watts raising all that money for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Goodell also called the President's remarks divisive and said, they showed a lack of respect for the NFL, for the game and for the players. So, that's on the owners and commissioner front, we are also hearing from several other players including players in the NBA and former players, like former Laker star Kobe Bryant took who to Twitter in response to all of this to say, "A Potus meaning President of the United States whose name alone creates division and anger whose words inspired dissension and hatred cannot possibly make America great again."

So, this is something that is getting a whole lot of attention in addition to people on Twitter asking why the President is focused on this, why he is fighting with black professional athletes. They are also wondering why he's not focusing on other issues like health care, like North Korea and the like, and instead kind of doubling down. The most recent tweets we have seen from him dealing with this issue and not the other domestic policies or foreign policy challenges that the U.S. faces.

So, something that's getting a lot of attention. And one more thing, Ana, we have a lot of sport analysts who are now predicting we're going to see more protests at future NFL games including tomorrow rather than fewer protests in response to the President. There is an entire hashtag on Twitter that says, NFLtakeaknee arguing that people, more people, more players should be taking a standby, taking a knee -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Athena Jones from Somerset, New Jersey. Thank you.

I want to bring in our panel, CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES." Sports columnist for USA Today, Christine Brennan, the former director of Blackout Rich for the Bush White House Paris Dennard.

So, Paris, let's start with you. I know you've been a big supporter of this president. The President did not have to go there. He didn't have to pick this fight. So, why is he doing this?

[17:05:17] PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, the President did not have to pick this fight but it is a fight that he is choosing to engage in because quite frankly Stephen Curry didn't have to make the comments that he made publicly about the President. If Steph whom I respect, a tremendous athlete had reservations about going to the White House to support, of course the White House in honor of his championship, he should have had the conversations behind closed doors, meet at the team and the team should have made a statement to the White House either accepting or declining their invitations.

And so, I think, in response to Stephen Curry, the President opine about them forgetting that it is not about the man, it is about the White House, it is about the President of the United States no matter whom that person might be honoring you for your achievement as an athlete before the whole wide world.


DENNARD: And I think they forgot that moment.

CABRERA: So, it is not just Steph Curry's tweet. The President made this statement seemingly out of nowhere at his rally last night regarding the NFL and football players kneeling during the National anthem. Again, we have North Korea this week. We have the healthcare debate that's heated up this week. There are a lot of other pressing issues in this country and the President chose to focus on this calling these NFL players who are peacefully protesting suns of bleep.

DENNARD: Well, listen, the President was in Alabama. And if you know Alabama like I do, that is football country. And so, he was talking to a large crowd of people therefore, Luther Strange. And he knows that those issues matter too. Those constituents he base that is there. They take football very seriously and they take very seriously is the United States flag and our National Anthem and our patriotism.

And so, that is what he was honing in on about the lack of respect for the flag, lack of respect for the National Anthem. Look, you have the right to protests, you have a right to do what you want as an athlete. My family comes from a long line of athletes both professional and college levels. So, I get it. Respect it. At the same time I think what you run the risk of doing when you make such displays that could be seen disrespectful to a large swath of the country as you take the focus off of your issues and you make it a distraction by doing something so disrespectful like refusing to stand for the National Anthem or for the pledge of allegiance.

CABRERA: Christine, you just wrote a piece for USA Today in which you say this. "President Donald Trump exhibited his failure to grasp the lesson every schoolyard bully learned long ago. Don't pick on the football players." Explain Christine what you are going with there.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Yes. First of all, what a losing argument for Donald Trump. You really want to take the entire sport establishment in this country. That is mind boggling but he's done it and here we are. But yes, he obviously, the joke would be in the schoolyard if there is a bully which is not a funny matter. But if there is a bully, and I guess in this case, that would be Donald Trump. You learn early on, you don't pick on the big guys.

And obviously in this case, the football players, of course I was having a bit of an ironic twist with of course being the NFL. But the very serious part Ana about this is, so you got Trump doing what he did and there was a moment this morning where everyone was saying, okay, what's going to be the response from the NFL? Is Roger Goodell actually going to have a comment?

Will he feel, you know, can he repudiate the President? Can he go after the President? Can he disagree with them? And the players' union, you saw the players' union first actually have their response and kind of wondering within a few minutes, Roger Goodell came out with a statement that's as strong as it could possibly be talking about the decisive rhetoric and the lack of respect that Donald Trump is showing the NFL. That is incredibly a strong language from a commissioner, especially the commissioner of the most important league in the country. The NFL.

CABRERA: Does that surprise you?

BRENNAN: I have known Roger Goodell for a long time, I know personally he would feel that way but obviously when you got a lot of owners and some of those owners certainly supported Donald Trump.

CABRERA: Yes. Jerry Jones and the list goes on. Those are the ones that donated at least a million dollars to President Trump.

BRENNAN: Well, and Goodell works for them and obviously at their pleasure. So, the fact that he did this I think speaks volumes, Ana, about what a disastrous pr move this was for Donald Trump. And the goodness of the NFL leadership at least in this point, at this juncture, going right at Trump on those issues. First Amendments, athletes being able to speak out and the goodness of these people including Kaepernick who is closed to reaching the million dollar pledge he made to charity. As everyone wants to be so critical of Collin Kaepernick, consider that, too. This man is now giving a million dollars to charity.

[17:10:00] CABRERA: Brian, a lot of Twitter backlash has been against what the President has said or his comments. But, I am also seeing a lot of people of people on Twitter and viewers who are saying, we agree with the President's comments.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And with regards to respecting the flag, polls have indicates that is a majority opinion that the people should not be kneeling during the national anthem. The President may have a majority support on that view. But in the debate that's raising today is, why is he waiting into this at all? Why is he taking a baseball bat and swinging at this hornets' nest that's issues of racism and patriotism?

What Collin Kaepernick is originally doing a year ago was trying to speak to systematic injustice and racism in the country. That's what he says his protests is about. The President in front of an almost entirely white crowd now in Alabama kind of bringing up the NFL seemingly out of nowhere as you said and then today to be tweeting about Steph Curry, again, another prominent black athlete. I think as Christine said, he's kind of going up against the entire sports establishment here.

You've got LeBron James today saying the President is a bum. These are so incredibly unusual. And it makes you wonder if the President kind of strategically does this to destruct, in order to -- people talking about themselves and about these culture warriors, as opposed to Russia investigations or it makes you wonder if he just kind of randomly takes picks these fights for no strategic reasons at all.

CABRERA: I want to bring back that tweet on Steph Curry and I know you were interested in talking more about this, Paris. Trump, he tweeted, going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore, invitation is withdrawn. So, he's taking on Steph Curry of the NBA. He is taking on players like Collin Kaepernick of the NFL. The White House remember, went after Jemele Hill at ESPN.


CABRERA: Some folks have said, look, these are all African-Americans. Can you admit Paris that those optics along aren't good?

DENNARD: Well, I mean, we cannot shy away from the fact that the majority of the people play in the NBA-NFL are African-American. It just so happens that the people that are speaking out happened to be African-Americans. And I think when you look at the totality of this issue of NFL or NBA athletes refusing to go to the White House because of the person that is occupying it. We have to keep it in perspective.

This pre-day's present Donald J. Trump. There are several instances of people not going to the White House because of Barack Obama being in office, President George W. Bush being in office. And at the end of the day, this is not that big of a deal as it relates going to the White House.

STELTER: But it is much more pronounced it now, it recognized that. Right?

DENNARD: Say it again? STELTER: It is much more pronounced now with Trump.

DENNARD: What is much more pronounce now are two things, one, the level of disrespect that we have seen from these athletes as it relates to our country. Number one. And number two, what we see now is that there is a high level of racial tensions in this country that predates the President that is being exasperated upon him because he is Donald J. Trump and there is a false narrative that he is somehow a racist.

CABRERA: Upon him or by him, Paris.

DENNARD: Say it again?

CABRERA: It has been exasperated upon him, what do you mean by that? Or is he --


CABRERA: Is he making things worst?

DENNARD: I think it's being put upon him because if you believe that Donald Trump is a racist, then everything he says or does is racist in your eyes. So, the fact that he speaks out against a person who happens to be black and about an organization that's overwhelming the majority of African-Americans that make up the players of these associations, then all of a sudden, he's a racist. Maybe he is saying, if you a taking a knee to the National Anthem, it is disrespectful. Brian was right. The majority of the American belief --

CABRERA: But on the issue of race that you just talked about, the racial divide, I mean, this is the President who called people who were at the neo-Nazis rally in Charlottesville find people. Meantime, he is calling African-Americans athletes, sons of bleep.

DENNARD: I think what the -- I would not have used that language. Okay? Let's just establish that. But it is not about the fact that they were African-American, it is the action and that is why I made the point earlier. Collin has the right to protest at any way he wants to. But when you do so in a manner, that offends the majority of Americans, both black and white. It doesn't matter racial issue when it comes to disrespecting the flag or disrespecting the National Anthem because of what it stands for.

When you do that, you run the risk of distracting from their original issues which was, you know, racial issues against police brutality which is an important to highlight. But don't do that in a way that disrespects the country or disrespect the flag. That's the only thing.

STELTER: The President is in a similar position here, right? He's disrespecting the majority of the country, the majority of the country thinks he is disrespecting them. He's saying you should be fired if he disrespects the flag. Well, a lot of Americans thinks that he should be fired as well. He is just contributing to this further divide for this kind of culture war stories and it's perplexing why he wants to do that.

[17:15:08] CABRERA: Christine, in all fairness too, I mean, this is a league that has been accused of black listing Collin Kaepernick, some say because of him making a political statement.

BRENNAN: Right. And in fact, when you look at some of the quarterbacks who are lesser quality, who have gotten jobs and calling Kaepernick has not, absolutely. It is a very valid question to ask and wonder why in the world this man who took a team to the Super Bowl five years ago, why isn't he -- backup somewhere. What this entire conversation though that we're having, what it does is it moves right from Saturday, right into Sunday to see what happens as far as players and solidarity with Kaepernick and others, if they're taking the E as you said, Twitter and all the things that are going on there.

It continues on into next week. Now, maybe Donald Trump has some grand plan to try to distract us from something else. But if not, to pick this fight, I mean, it seems like the sports world was probably the one thing that he really had not picked a fight with. Well, now he's there. He's in a big time and it is absolutely a losing fight for him. Fans wanted to cheer for athletes.

By the way, there are a lot of fans who respect Collin Kaepernick or at least respect the right for Kaepernick to have his First Amendment rights. And of course, that's what Donald Trump questioned last night. Can you imagine? The President of the United States questioning and saying a man should be fired, a person should be fired for exercising their First Amendment rights.

We are in interesting territory here and to have it as Brian knows in the intersection of sports and culture where it brings more people than to any other conversations because you bring sports fans into this conversation. And you have a national dialogue unlike any we've had so far in Donald Trump, nine months of his presidency. It is absolutely fascinating

CABRERA: We'll leave it there. Thank you all Brian Stelter, Christine Brennan and Paris Dennard, we appreciate it. New rhetoric and new actions in the U.S. North Korea crisis, plus the Korean culture show of course. Taking aim at the U.S. president. We'll break it down ahead on CNN.


[17:21:19] CABRERA: Tough talk in a show of force as tensions rise between the U.S. and North Korea at the United Nations just this afternoon at the General Assembly, North Korea's foreign minister slammed President Trump calling him mentally deranged and full of megalomania. Now, the speech comes the same day as U.S. Air Force, bombers and fighter jets flew just off the North Korean coast over international waters. But this was further north than they ever have flown in this century.

Add to this, mysterious seismic activity today near North Korea's nuclear testing site. Now analysts are telling CNN, this maybe aftershock as a result of a nuclear test earlier this month. Joining us now, CNN international correspondent Paula Hancock in

Seoul, South Korea. And CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott here in New York. So, Elise, you have been covering the U.N. all week. How is the international community receiving this latest fiery rhetoric coming from North Korea?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, you know, on one sense is really this kind of a typical affair that you see from North Korea where they are blasting the United States. But I think what's different now is becoming very personal against Donald Trump. You even heard Kim Jong-un this week in an unprecedented statement in his own name attacking President Trump and calling him names, calling him a madman as well. And I think you could see that President Trump is really getting in his head. And I think that's really dangerous because you don't know what will put, you know, this erratic leader on the brink of taking some kind of military action.

CABRERA: Paula, there in South Korea, how is it playing? Does it seem like things are different at this time in terms of where we are at in this crisis?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, I think certainly what Elise just mentioned, the fact that this is appearing now to be two leaders who are directly speaking to each other, leader to leader through the media. The fact that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader had a first person statement. You had a photo of him looking into the camera, reading or holding what appears to be the statements condemning President Donald Trump for his general assembly speech.

The fact that you have that, you have never had that before, that is different. And that took many people, many observers by surprise here. People who are covering North Korea for many years, in some cases, decades. This became very personal. Now, it does not mean that it became more tense but it does change the rhetoric somewhat. So, with that being said, when there are these personal attacks, how does that set the stage for any kind of diplomatic solution, Elise?

LABOTT: Well, it makes it difficult. You know, they're boxing each other into a corner if you will. How can they be talking about diplomacy when one is insulting the other one? I think that there are efforts to, you know, find a diplomatic solution. First of all, you have these sanctions which Secretary of State Tillerson said this week or starting to work. You see fuel shortages in North Korea. China this week announced and instructed its banks not to do business with North Koreans institutions.

So, if you could see China may be starting to pick up the pressure, maybe that would, you know, cause maybe more likelihood of a diplomatic solution. I think that you know certainly Donald Trump wants to show that he's very strong. You had today, these B1 bombers as we were talking about flying over North Korea. But it does make it more difficult. I will say though this week even in the middle of everything, reporters asked President Trump is it still a chance for diplomacy and Donald Trump said, why not? So, this is a very transactional president. I think if he saw an

opportunity for diplomacy, he would take it. But, you know, look, dealing with Kim Jong-un is very unpredictable. I think rhetoric like madman and you know, saying all these things saying, he's going to test Kim Jong-un, he's getting in his head and that is a dangerous place to be.

[17:25:19] CABRERA: For the President say, he is using language. He believes the North Korean dictator understands, we talked to other Korean experts who say, you don't fight fire with fire with this guy.

LABOTT: He's playing with fire.

CABRERA: All right. Elise Labott, Paula Hancocks. Thank you both.

Desperate search for survivors. It's happening right now in Mexico. But this morning, another big scare, there was another earthquake, we'll have a live report from Mexico City just ahead. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR OF NEWSROOM WEEKEND: We're following more BREAKING NEWS, this time out of Mexico.

Southern Mexico felt the effects of a 6.1 magnitude earthquake this morning, less than a week after a more powerful earthquake struck Mexico City.

Watch this?





CABRERA: So that was the moment sirens warned of this earthquake that was in Mexico City. The search and recovery crews had to halt their searches to quickly scramble for the safety of solid ground.

Now today's quake was centered in Oaxaca State, that's about 275 miles southeast of Mexico City. That places the epicenter roughly between that 7.1 magnitude quake that struck on Tuesday and the 8.1 magnitude quake that struck September 8th, that was of the southern Pacific coast.

I want to bring in Ivan Watson, in Mexico City for us where the death toll has continued to climb, the last official word was 305 just from that last quake on Tuesday, the 7.1 quake.

Ivan, do we know if today's quake caused any more damage where you are? IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have not gotten official notification of additional damage or additional casualties from this.

We have heard from the Mexican government that they believe that this morning's tremors were related not to the most recent earthquake last Tuesday that caused damage and caused this building behind me to collapse but from that earlier earthquake that you referenced at the beginning of the month with a magnitude of more than 8.0.

But it did cause rescue workers at a different location where there is another collapsed building, to suspend their work for fear of shifting rubble and endangering the rescue team.

Now Anna I have spent - with my team, the last two days traveling through some of the states in Mexico and there is damage in smaller communities and we encountered one very tragic story at a collapsed church in a small village where residents were supposed to be celebrating a baptism when the earthquake struck and then the village was then forced to hold a funeral.


ANNOUNCER: A community in morning. Crosses on the street to honor victims of the deadly earthquake that shook the village of Atzala on Tuesday.

It was not supposed to be this way.

That morning locals gathered at this church in the center of the village to attend the baptism of a 3-month-old girl named Elideth Torres de Leon.


ANNOUNCER: This is a video of the 277-year-old Santiago Apostol church filmed in happier times; it was the beating heart of this community.

But that all changed in instant when the earth began to shake on Tuesday.

Sergio Montiel Tello, a church employee was assisting with the baptismal ceremony when the earthquake struck.



When it started shaking, pieces of the ceilings started to fall. Everything went dark. I shut my eyes.

When I opened them, everything was covered with dust. I saw a little girl about 4-years-old whimpering, unfortunately she was under the debris. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Tello survived but 12 other people in the church were far less fortunate.

A day after the baptism the village of Atzala held a funeral.

This is what is so tragic and incomprehensible about a natural disaster.

What should have been the celebration of a new life instead resulted in the death of an innocent family.

Among those who perished in the church, most of Graciano Villanueva Perez family.




ANNOUNCER: He lists the victims...




ANNOUNCER: ... his wife, two daughters, his son-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Also killed of the church, the 3-month-old baby, Elideth; her older sister; and their mother.

Deep in morning, Perez turns philosophical to explain the loss.


PEREZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): God, he can take everything away, for example when it rains hard, the road floods and the water sweeps everything down the river.


ANNOUNCER: Like the flood, most of Perez family has suddenly been swept away leaving him one daughter to hold on to.


WATSON: Anna, let me just bring you up-to-date about the operation here.

We're at Number 286 Alvaro Obregon in Mexico City. We've just got an update from an Israeli Defense Force rescue team Commander named Lieutenant Colonel (Elad Edrey).

There are rescue workers from four countries, the U.S., Japan, Israel, and Mexico, working there.

Overnight the Mexican team recovered the body of a victim from this collapsed six-story building.

The Israeli Lieutenant Colonel says that there are 50 to 60 people believed to be trapped inside and they are digging tunnels at least two, down into the rubble to try to recover victims and it's very difficult, dangerous work.

Unfortunately, the Lieutenant Colonel is very pessimistic about the chances of finding any more survivors and there are families of the people trapped in this building who have been camped out here since Tuesday on a very difficult vigil waiting to find out about their missing loved-ones.


CABRERA: Ivan Watson; what an incredible story there. Thank you.

Now millions of people meantime in Puerto Rico have no power, many have no running water and in the aftermarket of hurricane Maria there's the possibility of another disaster.

A live report from Puerto Rico next on CNN.


CABRERA: I'm going to take you to Puerto Rico now as we continue to follow the aftermath of hurricane Maria.

The danger is not over yet. People living near the Guajataca River are fleeing an imminent dam break. The dam and river are located in the northwest portion of the U.S. territory and flooding is widespread all over the island.

And as residents try to pick up the pieces from the storm, the death toll sadly is rising with at least 10 people now reported killed because of the storm.

CNN's Nick Valencia is joining us from San Juan with the latest. And Nick I know you have some new information about the government response there. Tell us about it?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The government is asking for resources and they are getting a lot of help from the U.S. mainland.

It's just a short time ago that they tweeted out, "At least 4,000 members of the U.S. Army are here on the ground, that's to go along with the resources here from FEMA, from the Army Corps of Engineers and many others that are helping out the local resources and trying to rebuild this infrastructure.

As you know, Anna this is an infrastructure that was just decimated by this storm, a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall.

And even still days after this - the core of this hurricane passed through Puerto Rico, we were still experiencing severe weather yesterday. It poured down rain between about 4:00 a.m. and 6 a.m., it didn't do any justice for the flooded roads out there, the passageways, those gas stations that are underwater.

The good news in all of this though today, it's the first sunny day it's been since the storm and that's no doubt going to help recovery efforts.


CABRERA: Tell us more about those recovery efforts, what is - what is the - what does that look like, right now?

VALENCIA: Well they're - they're trying to bring generators to those cell towers, about 1,500 cell towers throughout the island here and communication it's just a - it's - it's very desperate at this time.

We're getting a lot of messages from people on the U.S. mainland to try to get in touch with their love ones because they just can't.

I spoke earlier with the governor of Puerto Rico, he said it took him two days to get in touch with his own parents so it's not just the residents, it's also officials that are a part of these relief efforts that are having to go through it.

Part of the problem also is gasoline and the belief among residents here that there is a gasoline shortage, the Governor addressed that at a press conference earlier that the - that we were at, saying those that are transporting these gas canisters to areas that have been especially hard-hit, they are dealing with their own personal matters.

So, it's been a struggle here to try to get things back to normal.

I spoke also to the local mayor here in San Juan and she's trying to set the tone for her residents, to try to set the expectation that there is not going to be any semblance of modern life here...


VALENCIA: ... communication, power, could be up to four to six months if you can believe it, for it to be restored throughout the island.


CABRERA: That is hard to imagine.

Nick Valencia, thank you for that report and thank you for your great reporting there.

VALENCIA: (Thanks).

CABRERA: Now the latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has hit a new snag. The law's future could be determined by one vote.

We'll take a closer look at what to expect, next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ANNOUNCER: Monday night, the final battle to repeal Obamacare is set.

Supporters Graham and Cassidy face opposition, Sanders and Klobuchar in a live CNN DEBATE, moderated by Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

The fight over Obamacare, Monday night at 9:00, only on CNN.


CABRERA: The GOP's latest effort to repeal Obamacare could be on the brink of failure after Senator John McCain said, he could not support this new Graham-Cassidy bill.

Since Senator Rand Paul has already said he will vote "NO," it will only take one more Republican to come out against this legislation to kill it.

Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski both voted "NO" on that last repeal effort you recall and they have not revealed exactly how they plan to vote this time so to say Congress is waiting for the senator's decisions 'with bated breath,' would be quite the understatement.

But while we do, I want to bring in Lanhee Chen, he is the former Public Policy Director for Mitt Romney and a Research Fellow at the Hoover institution.

Lanhee I appreciate you coming on. I know you want to see the Republicans pass this Graham-Cassidy proposal. Why do you think this legislation is the right answer?


The first is rising costs which in many states we've seen year-over- year it's making insurance unaffordable unfortunately for some Americans.

And the second issue really is Obamacare took what was previously the province of states really, states regulating health insurance and put it at the federal level.

Those two problems are interrelated and by the way those two problems are issues that are directly addressed by Graham-Cassidy.

So, I do think that it's (the right step) in the right direction.

CABRERA: But let's take a look at how many don't want this legislation to go forward.

These are just some of the major healthcare groups and insurers who oppose this bill.

You also have the American Medical Association, so we're talking doctors, the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians, the Nursing Association, nurses, and all 50 Medicaid directors say this bill would hurt people.

Now compare that to the major healthcare groups and the insurers that support this bill?


Not a single one that we could find who would vocally come out saying, they support it.

Even again the insurers are against this bill so Lanhee, how do we explain that?

CHEN: Well I would say first of all a number of governors have come out in favor of it. They think that it would give them greater flexibility to do good things.

You're right about those healthcare companies and healthcare industry groups.

What I would say is, look I think people get used to doing things a certain way. They had gotten used to doing things on the Obamacare, that's the regime they are used to.

I can understand there are a lot of these groups that are not interested in change but I also think that there is some serious problems that were created by Obamacare that do have to get solved.

So, it is unfortunate.

You go back and you look at many different health reform efforts over the years, these groups have opposed many of those efforts as well so I'm not entirely surprised this is where we are.

CABRERA: You talked about giving more power to the state. That is something that the Graham-Cassidy proposal would do but yet you look at how that shakes out money, money-wise or funding-wise and 34 states that get Obamacare money right now because of the Medicaid expansion would actually be getting a lot less money, in some cases we're talking billions, that's including in places like Pennsylvania, $6 billion less; Ohio, $9 billion less; Colorado, $6 billion less; Michigan, $8 billion less.

How do these states make up for that kind of funding?

CHEN: Well one of the things, one of the problems Anna, created by Obamacare is you did have a lack of equality between states in terms of how much money the federal government was sending them. That was a problem to start with. In fact, whether they took this Medicaid expansion, this expansion of the program targeted at low-income Americans, whether they took that money or not you're seeing unequal distributions of federal funding.

So, one of the things Graham-Cassidy tries to do is to equalize that.

The other thing I would say is that a lot of these states, they're going to have to make tough choices regardless of whether we have Graham-Cassidy or not going forward because...


CHEN: ... healthcare costs are rising, becoming quickly unsustainable, states are going to have to make choices and as it is the Medicaid program in many of these states is crowding out spending on education, on the environment, on other important priorities.

So, these are decisions that are going to come home to roost regardless our whether Graham-Cassidy passes or not.

CABRERA: I'm going to play for you something Kellyanne Conway said about the Graham Cassidy bill, just yesterday, watch?




Is it the beginning of the end of Obamacare?

"You betcha."

And you got to be able to go home and look at your constituents in the eye and say, "When you have the opportunity and the chance to roll back...


CONWAY: ... what's wrong with Obamacare and help filling those gaps of coverage..."


CABRERA: So Senator Rand Paul who we mentioned plans to vote no, address this line of thinking saying, quote, "It's not a very ringing endorsement when people start out with its, 'It's better than nothing,' they think that people just wanted to do something and do anything."

What's your response to that?

CHEN: Well I think you know, look Senator Paul has said for a long time that he's interested in repealing Obamacare. At this point, what Republicans are trying to do is they're trying to use this budget reconciliation vehicle, we've talked about this before because there isn't any Democratic support for getting rid of Obamacare, as a result what they're putting through by definition is not going to be perfect.

So, I think Senator Paul unfortunately is allowing 'the perfect to be the enemy of the good' here.

We're all going to have different opinions by the way on what 'perfect' is. I think the opinion that Kellyanne Conway was conveying is not unusual.

I think all of us would love to see a different mix of things in the bill. That's not what we have. We have at this point a vehicle that I believe will improve the healthcare system, that I believe Republicans can pass and I think that's what they should do.

CABRERA: Look, anything could happen. It looks like...

CHEN: Yes.

CABRERA: ... unlikely right now that this bill is going to move forward...

CHEN: Yes.

CABRERA: ... because of the math but President Trump we know is not giving up.

He tweeted this morning, he thinks Rand Paul might just come around to voting, "YES."

Do you think that's possible?

CHEN: I you know, anything is possible, I, Anna, I honestly, it's very unlikely at this point as you've said that this thing gets passed because of the math because we know that Murkowski and Collins have been opposed to previous iterations of the bill.

Rand Paul's on records now saying, "He doesn't want to," I don't see how this happens to be honest with you but you never know, I mean we didn't think we'd be talking about Obamacare repeal again, did we?

After all the...


CHEN: ... Stuff that happened in June and here we are.

CABRERA: That's right.

Lanhee Chen, thank you as always.

And make sure you tune in to CNN MONDAY NIGHT. We have a special Townhall that's going to happen. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy will debate their healthcare bill with Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Senator, Amy Klobuchar. That will be at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Meantime we have some BREAKING NEWS right now out of St. Louis.

Twenty-two people have been arrested during a protest at a mall today. This demonstration follows other protests in the area this week that were sparked by the acquittal of a white police officer who fatally shot an African-American suspect.

Now at today's protest police say they made several arrests after telling this crowd to disperse. There say about 150 people left peacefully while the others begin causing, what they call, "Disruptive Actions."

One officer was taken to the hospital. Two protesters also suffered minor injuries.

Well childhood be hard and if you are homeless, (in) foster care, living in poverty, it can be a lot more challenging. This week's CNN HERO knows this struggle personally. Aaron Valencia ended up hooked on drugs; he was in and out of jail; and when he finally emerged from this cycle, he found a passion for car restoration that now has become his passion with low income and at-risk kids finding their way to him.


AARON VALENCIA, CNN HERO AND FOUNDER OF LOST ANGELS CHILDREN'S PROJECT: Kids were kind of gravitating towards the shop to see what was going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (What's up bro', how are you?)

VALENCIA: So it was like (good to) come here and they can actually learn a trade, learn a lesson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Slowing down.)

VALENCIA: The wiring, the fuel system, carburetor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No crazy cut lines in it, nothing, it looks great.

VALENCIA: And the whole time they are working, we're dropping little bits of knowledge on how to make the right decisions in life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not looking for perfection. We're just looking for better than yesterday.


CABRERA: "Not looking for perfection. Just looking for better than yesterday."

Go to to see more.

I'm Anna Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being here. I'll be back in just an hour from now.




ANNOUNCER: Monday night, the final battle to repeal Obamacare is set.

Supporters Graham and Cassidy face opposition, Sanders and Klobuchar in a live CNN DEBATE, moderated by Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

The fight over Obamacare, Monday night at 9:00, only on CNN.



ANNOUNCER: The fight over Obamacare, Monday night at 9:00, only on CNN.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Last night President Trump repeated his claim that the Russian meddling story is a hoax.



I call it the Russian hoax.