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Israeli Police: Gunman Kills 3 at Border Crossing; Food, Water & Fuel Scarce in Puerto Rico; Senate GOP Health Care Repeal Effort Collapses. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired September 26, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: How can they be --
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No --
CAMEROTA: -- using private e-mails?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: And, look, by the way, the reason that the Hillary Clinton e-mail thing hit so hard it reinforced this idea that the Clintons, broadly speaking, didn't think that the rules applied to them. So, I mean -- you know, this would suggest another well -- particularly Ivanka and Jared Kushner, well-to-do family. Well, they're just going to do whatever they want to do. And that's hugely problematic.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: As a substantive matter it's important because there are actually ongoing investigations right now. And these e-mails just become a whole new treasure trove for Mueller and his team to play in, for the congressional investigators to play in. I thought that the revelations about these private e-mails were probably the most important thing that happened in the last week, because it's a Pandora's Box. We don't know what's in them.
But I do know that investigators are going to want to find out and that could pose a lot of problems going down the road in the same way it did for Hillary Clinton. It opens up a doe door that is very hard to close.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It may be a practical problem. Politically, being able to lean back on Clinton destroyed the e-mails, Clinton destroyed with the hammer and the bleach, that's going to get political cover. But you know what? The president doesn't agree with me, because what he has chosen to tweet about --
AVLON: Oh, please. Piping hot.
CILLIZZA: Crooked Hillary. Crooked Hillary.
CUOMO: With everything that's going on in Puerto Rico, Hillary Clinton, you know, in a soft ball form. What does he tweet about? NFL ratings. Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts when people turned in to see whether or not country will be disrespected.
AVLON: This is great. He gets to talk about the NFL and ratings. It's like a twofer.
CILLIZZA: It's what he cares about. Remember, the Twitter feed is him. The Twitter feed is what he cares about. He cares overwhelmingly in the last 72 or 96 hours about the NFL and ratings. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that he is placating a base.
And just remember, rich, entitled, primarily black.
CILLIZZA: Those are three things you can't change. Those are three things that will get people angry and resentful.
AVLON: But, look, I mean, look, Twitter Trump is the real Trump. We all know that. It's nice to know what's going across the brain waves of the president this early in the morning.
But, you know, we're not even talking about the fact that he retweeted a fake missile launch from Iran, a guy who has access to all the intelligence in the world. That's not even near the top of the stack of things to talk about. In any other administration, that would be a scandal that defined it.
CAMEROTA: He's tweeting fake dangerous news.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you. Thank you very much for all that.
CUOMO: All right. So, serious story coming from Israel. There's been bloodshed at the border there between Israel and the West Bank. We have details about what happened. These situations are always a concern as being a flash point for more conflict. We have the news, next.
[06:36:43] CUOMO: All right. We're following breaking news out of Israel. There's been a shooting at the crossing between Israel and the West Bank. Two Israeli security guards and one border policeman are dead. Police say a 37-year-old Palestinian man opened fire at the back gate of an Israeli settlement that is opened every morning to allow Palestinians to enter Israel for work. This is a very big security controversy. Police say the shooter was also killed.
CAMEROTA: North Korea is beefing up its east coast defenses after claiming that President Trump declared war on them. The White House calls North Korea's claim absurd. President Trump's tweet warned North Korean lawyers that they, quote, won't be around much longer. North Korea says that gives them the right to retaliate to shoot down U.S. fighter jets in self-defense. U.S. jets flew along the coast in a show of force this weekend.
CUOMO: Iran's claim that it tested a new ballistic missile last weekend appears to be false. U.S. intelligence radar systems and centers picked up no indication of a launch. Yet, President Trump actually tweeted about the suspected launch right after the Iranians released footage on Saturday. It's not known if the president was briefed before tweeting.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council declined to comment. The president did tweet that Iran launched a missile. As far as U.S. intelligence is concerned, they did not. I know that's confusing but that's the reality.
CUOMO: President Trump also facing intense criticism for tweeting about Puerto Rico's financial and infrastructure problems as the island is facing a growing humanitarian crisis because of hurricane Maria. Millions of Americans there still have no power.
CNN's Bill Weir is live in San Juan, Puerto Rico for us.
Bill, tell us what you've been seeing.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, we took about a 20-mile, as the crow flies, excursion south of the capital here of San Juan, into the high country. And if what we saw in the days' worth of exploring is any indication, this island is experiencing potentially the biggest crisis in a century.
Maria absolutely wrecked Puerto Rico. It looks like bombs went off in these mountain valleys. Every tree laying on its side. Homes sliding off of the hillside. Mudslides, a big concern there.
But, mostly, it's the humanitarian crisis. Even if someone's family's house stood. And right now, the official death toll is about 16 but it will go much higher than that as they continue to do search and rescue.
But it's the most basic necessities just do not exist. That is food, and water, and power, obviously, but also movement and information. People cut off.
And so many folks stateside wondering how people here are doing, so many people wanting them to know they're doing OK. That's going to be impossible because this once -- this already antiquated electrical system, the grid system here is completely shot.
I saw downed power lines. Huge high towers that came down crashing. And you can't fix those with a bucket truck and a couple of guys. It's going to take engineers and helicopters.
So, what they're worried about most right now after talking to the governor is security, as people get more anxious and more angry as that relentless tropical sun beats down and people wait six hours for a little bag of ice or maybe a gallon or two of gasoline to run a generator.
[06:40:11] They're going to get desperate. So, they've only been able to find 15 percent of the drivers they need to bring the diesel up into the country, into the interior. But -- and most of the other 85 percent, either they're dealing with
their own crisis at home or don't want to ride without a security guard, without a policeman with them. So, it is a complex, perfect storm of human misery down here.
CAMEROTA: It is so complex, Bill. I mean, Chris and I were just talking about how hard it is to get aid there. Ships can't arrive. Airplanes can't land with all the needed supplies. So, are folks there aware that FEMA and federal officials trying, or do they feel abandoned? What's the situation about when they'll be able to get the aid they need?
WEIR: Well, they don't know. Nobody knows. That's thing. Maybe the mayor has been given a satellite phone. I've heard stories of every afternoon, villagers gather together waiting for news and sometimes there is none.
So, what happens when you're in those dire straits, your mind goes to the worst places. And so, while we've met many people who are incredibly warm, gracious, tough. The Puerto Rican people, they're used to hardship. They're used to austerity. So, they put a brave face on it.
But it's just a matter of days and weeks before that turns. It is human nature. They would love any information, anything to get them through to the next day.
CUOMO: Hey, Bill, it is so important to have you and the team down there. You let us know what angles to pursue, what needs to be told and we'll get you back on and get the information out as soon as possible. Thank you for being there.
And, look, it's not easy to be where Jen Rivera, Alisyn's producer is down there. It is not easy to be there because they're going to live in those same conditions.
You also have a volume issue. The Virgin Islands got beat up, the U.S. Virgin Islands and others, bad. But the population density is unique in Puerto Rico. So, you have 3.5 million people there also in dense, but also spread out.
So, that means you're going to have every kind of problem. You've got them 1,000 miles away. You can't get around. There's not great infrastructure of roads and stuff. The power grid can't be jumped the way we do in the United States because you can't take the power surge.
So, you're going to be looking at months, according to best sources, before you get back to a basic standard of living. Months.
CAMEROTA: I mea, and transmission lines are down. They have to rebuild their -- what was a failing power grid already. They have to rebuild. So, I think we were mentioning something like 10,000 FEMA officials already there on the ground. That's good.
But they need a million. They need hundreds of thousands. They need so much more help because people are in remote areas and haven't had any help there. They're without medication. I mean, it just goes on and on.
CUOMO: You are spot on. That's why the need for leadership is so great. People must be reassured that there will be an end. That what's being done can be done.
We have FEMA officials joining us now. We have Carl Levon Kustin, FEMA California task force leader, and Jim Colston, FEMA battalion chief.
Chief, let me start with you. Give people here an understanding of why we all need to be focused on Puerto Rico.
JIM COLSTON, FEMA BATTALION CHIEF: Well, I think Puerto Rico right now is an isolated disaster area, and that's one of the reasons why we are here and assisting with the local government in the Puerto Rican search and rescue team to make sure we can get out and get a fair assessment of the needs as well as to any quick rescues and provide information for the long-term recovery.
CUOMO: Carl, as a task force leader from California, you go into situations, you understand search and rescue. How big is the challenge on the ground there?
CARL LEVON KUSTIN, FEMA CALIFORNIA TASK FORCE LEADER: Well, we actually had an advantage, over 270 of our personnel that were here post-Irma and were being demoralized when Maria spun up. We kept our assets here. We embedded, we hunkered down with the community here.
So, we had great ground troops even though Puerto Rico did not receive the kind of damage that the U.S. Virgin Islands did in Irma, we preplanned Puerto Rico and we used that information to really be aggressive, literally as soon as the storm broke and began rescue operations immediately. We had to cut our way out of the hotel we were in. We affected and immediately went after the areas. The only problem was that central EOC and the information we normally get from all the other regions in the area, this place got hit so hard, there was no contact.
[06:45:00] So, literally, we've been working feverishly to get out to these areas, to get contact, get information back home to the families to let them know that we are here. We have been here and we are here to get them that information and take care of the people here in Puerto Rico.
CUOMO: Not knowing, 3.5 million people there, so many of them tied to the United States. Obviously, they have -- they're a commonwealth. They have citizens' rights but they have family here.
What are you finding, Jim, in terms of that need to communicate? People here not knowing if their family is still well, family there wanting to communicate it back. How big of a deal is that?
COLSTON: It's almost a tremendous deal. Right now, with over 90 percent of the cellular communication down throughout the island, communication outside of the island is extremely difficult. I know our troops on the ground getting out into not only the major communities, but in the smaller areas are able to meet with local officials there to provide them some information as well as, you know, do some spot checks on some high-target hazards. And then also provide them some information so that we can go back and try to make some of those connections for them, since they're not currently able to do so.
CUOMO: What's your best sense, Carl -- Jim, of how long it will be until the basics are in place for most of that population?
KUSTIN: Well, we have different layers of support that FEMA is providing. The group we're responsible to and work with is the FEMA search and rescue program. We are still actively removing people from hazardous conditions, they are ill, that can't move on their own. And these are areas that are very hard, inaccessible to get to, especially in the mountainous areas, we have both group and air recon that have been taking place nonstop during the storm. They're continuing until we can get to those areas.
And I guess our footprint, we have a huge, huge effort of people that are connected to this country. Being here and how well we've been taken care of people that have lost everything. You have to know that we are doing everything possible and we will not stop until we get that information and try to reassure everyone back home that we're doing everything we can to get to the people who are cut off, get them information.
If they need to be removed, taken care of medically or rescued from those environments, that's what we're doing.
CUOMO: We are hearing you say it --
COLSTON: If you look at the amount of damage that you're seeing --
CUOMO: Go ahead and finish your point.
COLSTON: I'm sorry. The infrastructure, it's going to take a long time to get -- it's going to take a long time to get power and communication back up throughout the island. And so, we're seeing some recovery now but to answer your question for the long term of what we've seen in our disaster experience, unfortunately, the Puerto Rican people have a long road ahead of them. We want them to make sure they know they're not alone in that recovery process.
CUOMO: Well, look, Jim, Carl, you guys are there to do the work and we know that there's nobody better than the first responders that America puts on the ground in these situations. Thank you for what you're doing. We will echo that urgency every chance we get.
You let us know what information, what needs the American people back home can help the Puerto Ricans with there. Let us know. Be well and be safe -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Chris.
Now to health care. Now that the Graham/Cassidy bill appears that it will fail, is there any way that Congress can fix the nation's health care crisis? One of the architects of Obamacare, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, will join us next.
[06:52:34] CUOMO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces a tough decision today. Does he go forward, does he call for a vote on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, but probably won't go his way, or does he admit defeat? Which is also going to come a big political cost.
But the reality is, they don't seem to have the votes to pass it, even with a simple majority, 50 plus one, because three Republicans have come out against him.
Let's discuss with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. He's a CNN contributor and one of the architects of Obamacare.
Zeke, let me put it right to you and what we hear as a defender of Graham/Cassidy. There are people -- not the majority but about 7 percent of this country who gets insurance through the individual market, who believes that the mandate and paying for all of the weak are rocketing their costs. The big premiums have gone up for them. The deductibility has gone up for them, in terms of what they have to pay out of pocket. And something like Graham/Cassidy, that releases the onus, the responsibility of having to have my insurance be a function of everybody else's will lower their costs and they like this idea.
What do you say to that group of people?
EZEKIEL EMANUEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, typically, there were a group of people who, before the Affordable Care Act -- and if you repeal the mandate and exchanges in the Affordable Care Act would be better off. They tend to be people who are healthy, and young and fairly well off. So, actually, making a good income. Their insurance premiums would go down because we do what's called experience rating there. They pay based on what their anticipated costs are.
But the whole point of insurance is to pool a big group of people and lower everyone's costs because it's more predictable and you know what the costs are, Chris. And the best thing is not to do what Graham/Cassidy tried to do, which was to slice up the pool, the group of people you insure, but to people put as many people as possible into one pool, healthy, young, and older and sicker. And that will actually lower, on average, the costs for people.
But, you know, it also goes to a larger point, which is we need to keep health care costs come down. For the last six years since passage of the Affordable Care Act, health care costs have moderated. Unfortunately, lots of people have seen their deductibles go off and the employers are shifting more of the costs onto their workers.
[06:55:00] And that has to reverse.
CAMEROTA: We heard that last night. So, there was a CNN town hall about health care. And you, being one of the architects, obviously, of Obamacare, I just
wonder what your reaction is when you hear stand up as this one audience member talk about how much they've been hurt by Obamacare and how it was not as billed. Let me just play this for everyone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell my daughter tonight how you plan to absolutely guarantee her that she will never be subject to exorbitant premiums?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obamacare was a huge lie to the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Medicaid expansion is cut, what protections would there be to ensure people suffering and dying from addiction would continue to have access to health insurance coverage for treatment?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Considering the scant marketplace options in my state, what would you do for health insurance if you were me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Zeke, hold on a second. That was not the one I was hoping for. I want to stay here from the woman that you heard there who said Obamacare was a big lie. She goes on to talk about how it was misrepresented. So, maybe we have that one?
OK, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obamacare was a huge lie to the American people. Our insurance premiums did not go down. We did not get to keep our insurance plans. We did not get to keep our doctors and our taxes did not go down.
Have you taken the time to listen to us, who are trying so hard to convey our message? We can no longer afford to pay so much so that so many can pay so little.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. So, Doc, what do you say to her about all those broken promises?
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, about all those broken promises are accurate. The Affordable Care Act has done some remarkable things for people.
First of all, it limited total out-of-pocket costs that people would have to pay. Those are high limits but it does prevent people from going bankrupt and that is, I think, an important protection. And that's true for everyone.
The second thing I would say is, look, one of the problems of the affordable -- that has emerged after we passed the Affordable Care Act, is we needed some fixes. We recognized we needed to fix some things in the marketplace and the exchanges to bring premiums down. We needed to guarantee the cost-sharing subsidies to have reassurance so that if an insurance company had super high expensive people, it wouldn't affect everyone's premiums.
We also needed to get more insurance companies in rural areas and uncovered counties by maybe reducing their taxes from the Affordable Care Act. There are a lot of fixes that can be done. Unfortunately, we could not do that because Republicans would not pass some fixes.
Everyone hurts for people who are paying super high premiums and we need to keep health care costs, hospital costs, doctor costs down to actually reduce those premiums. Those are essential elements. And, hopefully, we can now focus on the very practical measures to actually save money and that will reduce premiums and address that lady's concerns.
CAMEROTA: I mean, look, you know, if this fails -- if Graham/Cassidy fails, it's up to Congress to fix the things that are broken.
EMANUEL: My worry is they're just going to move -- we've got to move on now. We can't do health care.
We need to do something bipartisan and not rush it. Do it behind close doors the way Mitch McConnell did. You have a total of five hours of hearings by the Republicans. Democrats had many more.
We can actually work this out if we try to work in good faith. I hope that Senator Alexander and Murray actually make progress on shoring up exchanges and bringing premiums down. They have some ideas and they should push forward now.
CUOMO: They're working on a bipartisan basis to do exactly that.
CUOMO: That was halted because they want to fight for Graham/Cassidy first.
EMANUEL: Right, the bipartisan basis can go forward.
CAMEROTA: OK. Ezekiel Emanuel, thank you very much.
EMANUEL: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK. President Trump is facing criticism over his response of the devastation in Puerto Rico. What the president is tweeting about is under scrutiny. So, we'll show you what he's focused on this morning.