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Florida Power Works on Power; Flynn Middle East Trip; Trump Meets with Senators; Escaping Hurricane on Cruise Ship. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 25, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:33:30] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to show you something we saw a little bit earlier this morning while we were driving around and trying to get a sense of the damage here. You can see that deer. That is one of the world-famous Key deer. A population of, you know, more than 1,000, 700 to 1,000 deer that lives here on Big Pine Key, where I am. This is the smallest deer in the United States, are these teeny tiny little deer that I think outsiders love, come to look at and love because they're very cute. Natives here not quite as fond of them because they can be a little pesky. But we saw them out and about poking through the debris, poking through the wreckage of this storm. They seemed to survive it fine. Obviously the deer know something in some cases that we don't, how to ride the storm. But a pretty incredible image of the resilience of these small creatures living through a storm like this.

Poppy, it's just one of the cites you sort of see as you drive around here. You know, the birds here are stunning. There's so much beauty here despite all the destruction we're seeing, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I love that you found the deer. The rare deer, Berman, and brought it to us all the way from Big Pine Key. It is -- it is beautiful. Thank you for that.

Stick with me. We do want to bring in now the vice president of Florida Power and Light, because you've got millions of people, over 4 million people, across Florida still in the dark. Some estimates are upwards of 40, 42 percent. How do things look to you this morning?

ROB GOULD, VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, FLORIDA POWER AND LIGHT: Well, we're making some significant progress. We've restored nearly 60 percent of all of our customers who were out of power as a result of the storm, 4.4 million. And we're down to about 1.9 million right now out of power.


[09:35:08] GOULD: We are on a pace that is about four times faster in restoration than what we saw during Wilma back in 2005. A lot of that is due to the fact that we've invested heavily in hardened infrastructure. And, candidly, we're encouraged by what we're seeing, particularly on the west coast. We're not seeing a lot of the poles down or a lot of the structures down that support transmission. And that's really very good news such that we're not having to put up thousands of new poles to get the lights back on. But it's still a very wide spread, wide swath of destruction that we're going to have to continue to attack.

HARLOW: Rob, you and the folks at Florida Light and Power have called this the most complex and potentially prolonged sort of repowering process, if you will. At the same time, is there any warning that you have for people in their homes whose power may be out, downed power lines? People, obviously, know not to go near them. But are there any safety concerns for folks that still have their power out?

GOULD: No, absolutely. This is actually the time where we see the most fatalities, not the pre-storm and not during this storm. You know, the weather is nice out, the sun comes out, people get out, they're walking about. And even at night, the weather, they want to get outside of the house and get some air. If they're walking in water, they don't see lines that are down. Lines do not have to be moving to be energized. It can be a fatal activity if you go out for a walk just trying to get some air and you don't see where you're walking.

Same with generators. A lot of our customers have generators. They use those generators. They forget the fact that they shouldn't be put in garages or they should not be put near windows or doors. And that -- those fumes can go right into a house and cause carbon monoxide poisoning.


GOULD: So serious, serious safety concerns.


GOULD: We're going to get through this, but now's the time that we truly need patience. And, you know, again, you know, when I sit here and say that we've restored about 60 percent of our customers, that rings hollow for those 40 percent that are still without power.

HARLOW: Sure. It does. Wow, you know, as a parent, that warning -- hearing that warning without the generators, I had no idea. I didn't know that. So I hope everybody that has a generator right now hears it and heeds your warning.

Rob, thank you very much for that. We appreciate it. Good luck to you and your teams that are working around the clock.

We're going to take a quick break. When we get back, much more on Florida Governor Rick Scott right now on this boat tour surveying the damage. Much more from him ahead in the press conference in just a little bit.


[09:42:06] HARLOW: All right, some very sad news out of Hollywood, Florida, to report to you. You're looking at aerial shots over a nursing home there where, unfortunately, you see what looked like covered bodies because five people, we can tell you, are dead this morning at this nursing home in Hollywood, Florida.

You had about 100 people evacuated from this nursing home because of Irma, but five are dead this morning. There are a lot of unknowns. We don't know why. We don't know their identity yet. But there is concern, obviously, about power and air conditioning, power generation for all of these structures. We're working to get you those answers.

But again, the breaking news, five people dead this morning at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida. We'll bring you more as we know it.

We also have some new reporting this morning on politics. CNN has learned House Democrats want Special Counsel Bob Mueller and the Russia investigation to take a closer look at a trip to the Middle East made by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Now, this is trip he made back in 2015.

Our CNN senior congressional reporter Manu Raju has the reporting.

Manu, you broke this story. It was a 2015 trip, but it looks like, according to these Democrats, yet another trip and some meetings with Saudis and Russians not disclosed on those forms.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, and that's the real issue here. Elliott Angle (ph), the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, have actually received information from Michael Flynn's former business partners who are pursuing this deal which include building 16 nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia, and also the purchase of military hardware with Russia. And have said from -- according to these documents that they have received, it shows that Michael Flynn did, in fact, travel in 2015 to the Middle East. And later, when he returned back and reapplied for a security clearance form, he did not disclose that trip on his form, which, of course, is required by federal law.

Now, it is a crime to knowingly falsify your security clearance form. And this is just the late -- another example of a number of trips that Michael Flynn did not disclose on his form, including a trip that he took that were paid by Russian RT -- the Russian Television Network, which was photographed pictured next to Vladimir Putin.

In addition to this, Poppy, Michael Flynn, under scrutiny from Bob Mueller's team for his previously undisclosed work with Turkey, as well as communications with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the transition and during the campaign season, this another example of scrutiny that he's under. So far, though, no comment yet from Michael Flynn's attorney about this latest development, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right, and potentially, you know, another headache for the administration on this one.

Manu Raju, great reporting, as always, breaking the news. Thank you very, very much.

Let's talk about this and some more political headlines. With me now, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Errol Louis, and political reporter for "The Fix" at "The Washington Post," Amber Phillips.

Nice to have you both.

Amber, what's your take on Manu's reporting this morning? I mean this is -- you know, this was in his business capacity, Flynn's business capacity, but it was about a big energy deal having to do with nuclear power potentially with the Russians and the Saudis. And, again, something he, according to these Democrats, didn't disclose as he was entering the Trump administration in a very key role.

[09:45:22] AMBER PHILLIPS, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST, " "THE FIX": Right. Yes, I think that this is something that Democrats want the special counsel to add to the list of things that Michael Flynn has done or maybe hasn't done in this case that could be potentially illegal.

And it's important to step back and ask, well, why? Why does this matter to a special counsel that is specifically investigating Russia collusion? And the answer that I hear from legal experts is, Flynn is obviously a key source of information with how Russia -- excuse me, the Trump campaign interacted with Russia during the campaign and then during the administration while he was national security adviser.

But, if Flynn isn't able to talk or willing to talk on his own to the special counsel, it's a tried and true investigation tactic to bring up other potential legal threats and force him to talk. And that's why I think it's very important to follow all of these ancillary legal troubles that Michael Flynn, and I'll throw in former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, could be involved in. I think that they are important to the core issue of Russia collusion.

HARLOW: Yes, he's been -- he has been unwilling to testify yet. And you've seen a number of others who have been willing to answer questions, like Jared Kushner, like Don Jr., et cetera. Not yet from Michael Flynn. Thank you for that.

So, Errol, last night it was like Kumbaya at the White House, this meeting with Democratic senators. You had Heidi Heitkamp, Senator Donnelly, Senator Manchin. Democrats from red states, right. It puts them in a different position, meeting with the president largely on tax reform. The White House senior adviser calls this a trust building exercise, not about specifics.

But this morning, as I was reading the responses from the Democrats senators, here's what I was left with, the words they used to describe the meeting, "good," "productive," and "glad to join the prepare" and "hopeful." What's going on?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, I mean, it could be the system actually starting to function a little bit the way that it's supposed to.

HARLOW: Can you imagine? LOUIS: Listen, I think the trust-building is not so much the president reaching out in a purely sort of Kumbaya manner, but really trying to sort of get more players and pieces on the board. I think he has found, with the collapse of the repeal and replace effort, that he's not going to rely on the Republican leadership to move major pieces of legislation. And that he, himself, is going to have to sort of figure out some kind of a strategy that does involve some Democrats.

We saw the enormous reaction when he sort of spontaneously cut a deal on the debt ceiling question with the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and with the minority leader in the House. So to the extent that he wants to work with Democrats --

HARLOW: Right.

LOUIS: There are a lot of conservatives ones out there that he actually has some leverage with.

HARLOW: What I do not think he will get fellow -- what I do not thing the president will get onboard with is what Bernie Sanders is proposing today at 2:00 p.m., and that is Medicare for all. This is a single payer plan that has a price tag, as of now, CNN Money's analysis, of $1.4 trillion a year. OK, this was anathema to even many Democrats, certainly to Hillary Clinton not long ago. Now you have practically all the 2020 hopefuls, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, like Senator Warren, like Senator Al Franken on board with this thing.

LOUIS: Yes. Well, they --

HARLOW: What's going on?

LOUIS: In politics the improbable can become the possible and perhaps even the inevitable. The reality is, yes, it has a big sticker price on it. But as we're going to probably hear from Senator Sanders today of the cost of the waste and the loss that we currently put up with in this crazy system that we have is probably somewhere near that same number. So we can pay for it in aggravation and --

HARLOW: Is it realistic? Is this sort of the litmus test, the litmus test for Democrats heading into 2020?

LOUIS: Well, you know, I mean you get -- realistic is what we the people say it is.


LOUIS: And to the extent that these folks -- I mean, look, politicians, the one thing that they've very good at is counting votes, sensing possibilities and seeing what they can or can't get away with as far as what their voters will support. So to the extent that you see a couple of senators now signing on, it's not just Bernie Sanders off on his own, the socialist senator, but there are others who are coming along and think that it is a winning proposition for them.

HARLOW: Right. LOUIS: That's an interesting piece of information.

HARLOW: We have to leave it there. We're out of time.

Amber, thank you so much. Errol, thank you. Nice to have you as well.

Tonight, Hillary Clinton sits down one-on-one with our Anderson Cooper. What happened in the 2016 presidential race? That, of course, the title of her book. You'll see her full interview with Anderson, 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Back to Irma and our coverage of the devastating hurricane. Roads, jammed. Hotels and flights completely booked for folks trying to get out of there or ride out the aftermath. How a luxury cruise ship has become a safe haven for thousands of stranded vacationers. We're going to take you live to Miami, next.


[09:54:27] BERMAN: All right, John Berman here in Big Pine Key down in the Florida Keys, hit so hard by Hurricane Irma. Just actually stepped on this beautiful shell. You know, this is what people come here for. But this shell was all mixed in with everything else that was pushed through this garage and the house right behind me when eight feet of storm surge came barreling through here into The Keys.

Now, before we got here, we were up in Miami for several days. Miami, also hit very hard by Hurricane Irma. Miami, of course, a hub for cruise ships. People come from all around the world to get on boats in Miami and tour the beautiful waters around here. There are some people there who just had quite a cruise.

[09:55:06] Our Rosa Flores has been talking to people who really sheltered in a cruise ship,


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What an adventure, John. I've been talking to a lot of these people. You can see that they're disembarking right now. A lot of them getting into cabs and also just touring companies.

These folks, most of the people I talked to, are very excited. This added a three-day Cozumel adventure for them. There was one couple I talked to that was celebrating their 25th anniversary. And they said, you know, this was quite the adventure. It was a blessing that we were able to get out of the storm and enjoy a cruise free of charge.

Now, on this boat, John, there are people from both the Norwegian "Escape" and the Norwegian "Sky." When they left on Thursday, right before the storm hit, there was about 4,000 people on the ship. Once they sailed to Mexico, they gave people the option, if you want to get flights, go ahead. About 500 did do that. And so there's about 3,500 people disembarking today.

And, John, the good news is that the Norwegian "Sky" was sent to St. Thomas with food, water, and also it is going to be bringing back about 1,000 people who are trying to get out of the Caribbean. So good experiences all around for the people that we've talked to so far.

BERMAN: All right, that is some wonderful news to hear. People have had a heck of a few days. Rosa Flores for us in Miami.

We see some helicopters flying overhead. A welcome sign here. It means help is coming for the people here in the Florida Keys.

Also saw an interesting sight. A bulldozer with its front end -- the front end loader full of a barbecue and charcoal. A guy down the street going to a friend's house. They're going to cook what they have left. This is survival in the Florida Keys.

CNN's special live coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma continues right after this.