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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Under Fire For Not Lifting Law To Help Puerto Rico; Source: Trump "Embarrassed" His Pick In Senate Race Lost; Trump Deletes Recent Tweets Backing Loser In Senate . Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 27, 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] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, President Donald Trump defending big business instead of millions of Puerto Ricans who are desperate for relief. Why won't he waive a law that he lifted after Harvey and Irma?
And breaking news, top senators reaching a deal to subpoena former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Plus, is Trump about to fire his Health and Human Services secretary for reportedly spending more than $400,000, your dollars, taxpayers' dollars on private jets.
Let's go OutFront.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, second class citizens. President Trump dragging his feet on lifting a law that could help speed relief to Puerto Rico, one week after Hurricane Maria completely devastated the island, home to 3.4 million American citizens. Puerto Rico is facing what its government calls a humanitarian crisis.
Tonight, 97 percent of Puerto Rico has no power. Many people have gone days now with no fresh water. No fresh water for days. This is a critical situation, a life or death situation. And in a desperate situation, every bit of help matters.
A group of bipartisan lawmakers say waiving the Jones Act which only allows American ships to deliver supplies to American territories would help speed up the delivery of food, fuel, medicine and building materials to Puerto Rico. But when pressed on this today, the president said he's worried about the shipping industry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Puerto Rico Mr. President, why not lift the Jones Act like you did in Texas and Florida?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thinking about that, we have a lot of shippers and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don't want the Jones Act lifted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So the shippers don't want the law lifted and that's what holding the president back in his own words. Not to more than 3 million Americans who live on Puerto Rico.
Here are the facts, there is no cure all, but the president lifted the Jones Act last month after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, to help Americans on the mainland. Let's remember, over the past week, Trump has tweeted 26 times about his fight over the national anthem, and just six times about Puerto Rico. None of those six times by the way were until after he faced intense criticism for saying nothing at all and not tweeting at all. We called them saying 26 tweets to zero.
Then he started tweeting about it. And then when he did start to mention Puerto Rico, he even insulted the island. His first tweet reading, "Puerto Rico which was already suffering from broken infrastructure and massive debt is in trouble."
Ivan Watson begins our coverage tonight. He is OutFront tonight in San Juan. And Ivan, you've been out today, what have you seen?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've been following the military effort here. Several military officials tell CNN that they plan in the coming days to practically double the number of active duty troops on the ground from about 2,500 now in Puerto Rico and in the Virgin Islands, to add 2,000 or 3,000 more. But that just may not be enough for a stricken island with a population of some 3.4 million people.
WATSON (voice-over): Citizens of Colombia, escaping the U.S. island of Puerto Rico. Evacuated by their government to board a Colombian Air Force plane and it's hard to blame them.
Aboard a U.S. Navy helicopter, you get a sense of the scale of the damage here. A week after Hurricane Maria barreled across Puerto Rico, transport, electricity, drinking water and telecommunications are seriously, if not completely disrupted. This devastated island still needs so much help and the U.S. military is uniquely positioned to assist.
The USS Kearsarge is an amphibious assault ship, but here's it's a floating logistical hub.
(on camera) The USS Kearsarge is supporting Puerto Rico on land, sea and air, not only with these vertical takeoff ospreys, but also with folks and trucks and bulldozers on the ground.
ADM. JEFF HUGHES, U.S. NAVY: We continue to do search and rescue on an alert posture, so we're able to respond if we get a call.
WATSON (voice-over): The Kearsarge ship out last month to help with the destruction caused by the back-to-back Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and now Maria.
HUGHES: So we're doing a lot of work to move logistics, those critical life sustaining supplies, water, food, medical supplies to different parts of the island where they may not necessarily be accessible by ground.
WATSON (voice-over): Among the men and women helping with this effort, Puerto Rican sailors with families on the island.
(on camera) Had you've been able to speak with your families since Hurricane Maria?
WATSON (on camera): None of you (INAUDIBLE).
RAFAEL REYES, U.S. NAVY: And so to be this close and to see what (INAUDIBLE) going through right now and the condition that she's in, not have that liberty to just go over there and help out and put hands on whoever, and help out whoever. That's a more frustrating part, but we have a job to do on board the ship.
[19:05:03] WATSON (voice-over): Everybody plays their part here.
(on camera) The ship has two parking garages like this full of heavy vehicles and it's ferrying them to Puerto Rico on landing craft via this well deck.
(voice-over) In recent days, sailors and marines have moved a desalinization unit to the island to distribute clean drinking water. And bulldozers to open up roads blocked by debris. Each delivery accompanied by hopes and prayers on from the sailors left onboard the ship.
REYES: We'll stay. I mean, we're here, we'll stay here as long as we have to and make sure this island gets back up on its feet.
WATSON: You know, Erin one of those sailors told me that his whole life as a child growing up here in Puerto Rico, his parents fed him and now it was his chance to try to send some food back, not only to his family but to his neighborhood, to his stricken community.
BURNETT: Ivan, you know, I know we're talking to the governor of Puerto Rico, just come out and said he also want that act, the Jones Act that we talked about lifted because they desperately need food and supplies. We do know though, obviously we're talking about the port here, one shipper was telling us look, they have 3,000 containers that are full, and they're not able to get them even into the island so it's a two pronged problem.
I mean, you can get this water to the port, you can get it to the port but you can't get it to people who now have gone days without water. And I know you've seen some of this problem. WATSON: Yes. I mean, what do you do, even with this military assistance and the lift power and the boats and the trucks, if so much of the supply chain is broken right now. So yes, we spoke -- CNN spoke with the executive of this company Crowley who said there are 3,000 containers but there are no truck drivers and there's no fuel for the trucks to then send out aid into the community.
And this supply chain is broken in so many places right now. You know, we got Puerto Ricans coming up saying that they can't pay for groceries at the supermarket with credit cards because the telecommunication system has broken down. so people, if they planned ahead of time, they got a bunch of cash stockpile, and it's become essentially, people say a cash-based society.
So all these steps in the supply chain are broken. The military can help some, FEMA, other agencies coming in, but how do you rebuild this entire supply chain? That is the enormous challenge facing this U.S. island. Erin.
BURNETT: It's pretty stunning. As we said again, we can't say it enough, a humanitarian crisis, more than 3 million people right now. and Ivan, thanks very much to you.
The reality of this is of course it's not just that the president said he was worried about the shippers who didn't want that Jones Act waived. He's also still focused on his battle with the NFL and the Senate race in Alabama, of course his candidate losing.
Jim Acosta is OutFront live in Indianapolis where the president was just speaking. And Jim, do you get the sense -- I mean, when it comes to Puerto Rico, clearly the president is playing catch up. I mean, there's no question about that, he didn't even tweet about it until people started criticizing him for saying nothing.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Erin, today the president seemed like he was being pulled in a lot of different directions. You know, he was still licking his wounds after that election in Alabama last night. We're told he was embarrassed and angry that his candidate lost.
He was saying today that he had the votes to pass the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill when he doesn't have the votes. He was even suggesting that he might fire the Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
But we do know, Erin later on this afternoon, a White House spokesman said that the president did speak by phone with the Puerto Rican Congressional Delegate Jenniffer Gonzalez. They spoke by phone, according to this White House spokesman, that delegate told the president, she thanked him profusely for all the relief efforts coming into Puerto Rico. So the White House sort of bending over backwards to demonstrate that local officials on the ground are thankful for the response coming out of the Trump administration.
And one thing we also want to point out, Erin that the administration did in fact announce today that they had tapped a brigadier general to coordinate the relief efforts out of the Pentagon on the ground in Puerto Rico. So that should accelerate some of the progress down there. But of course the big question on the island is, why isn't help happening fast enough?
And the president said today at this tax event here in Indianapolis that he's not going to turn his back on the people of Puerto Rico, that help is on the way. But of course people are going to be watching to make sure that is in fact what is going to take place and the president will be down there on Tuesday. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, of course he surprised everyone by saying he was going to do that. Jim, do you -- you know, when the president came out and said we're thinking about -- we're talking about the Jones Act here which obviously he had lifted for both Irma and Harvey for Florida and Texas but has not yet for Puerto Rico. Separate from what kind of an impact it may or may not have, the issue is, he said we have a lot of shippers and a lot of people that working in the shipping industry that don't want the Jones Act lifted.
Was there any sense among anyone around him that that was an empathetic, insensitive, being said?
[19:10:05] ACOSTA: Well, certainly, the White House is grappling with discretion. We're hearing from our sources, Erin that there is a debate inside the administration as we speak as to what to do with those regulations, because people in Puerto Rico feel like those regulations are not working for them. So apparently there's a fierce debate going on inside the administration about this.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary was asked about this earlier today and she said that that is the decision right now in terms of what's going to be done with respect to the Jones Act. But it does sort of leave the door open that they might change their mind in all of this. And pressure certainly building down in Puerto Rico to make sure those regulations go away because it's certainly not helping the people of Puerto Rico, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much. And yes, and we should say the governor of Puerto Rico just came out joining the representative to Congress from Puerto Rico saying that they want that waived.
Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore joins me on the phone, who commanded the military response to Hurricane Katrina. General, I think you heard the news, there is now a brigadier general in charge, the Pentagon has put in charge? Do you know what's happening?
RET. LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, COMMANDED MILITARY RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA (via telephone): Yes, Brigadier General Kim out of Army North. When the Army created a Northcom after 9/11 to defend the United States, they also created a one-scale Army called the Fifth Army, we also have a marine (INAUDIBLE) headquarters, an Air Force and a Navy.
And they have sent a deputy commander, Brigadier General Kim to be the commander of the military there. That is correct. BURNETT: So let me ask you, General, you know, you have the governor now, the elected representative from Puerto Rico asking for this Jones Act to be waived. Look, it's really complicated what's happening, some of, you know, the stuff may be getting to port, but not getting to where it's needed. They say that it would speed delivery rapidly for this act to be lifted.
The point though is this, that the president's response when asked about whether he would lift it when he did to Florida and Texas with Harvey and Irma, he responded this way about Puerto Rico. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, we're thinking about that, but we have a lot of shippers and a lot of people and lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don't want the Jones Act lifted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What's your response to that, General? The president seems concerned about the shipping industry.
HONORE (via telephone): I want to say that's a crying damn shame. I knew since yesterday that big shots in Wall Street were making this call, and the president has shown again, he don't give a damn about poor people, he don't give a damn about people of color, an SOB that (INAUDIBLE) on Air Force One, is denying services needed by the people of Puerto Rico. I hate to say it that way, but there's no other way to say it.
BURNETT: So you -- the second class citizens which is obviously what we said at the top of the show, you sound like you're saying -- to you, this is also a race issue?
HONORE (via telephone): I'm reading in it just like he read about why guys he call SOBs do, mostly African-Americans who kneel during the national anthem. He's got that liberty as a citizen, I have that liberty. The other thing I tell you this, there's a right on the horizon, Erin not to change the subject but there's a crisis coming.
Twenty-three percent of Puerto Ricans receive social security. They expect that money in the next couple of days. The United States government better get off its butt and figure out how make sure these people get their money.
And the next thing they need to do is get cash in there and start hiring people to do work. If you infuse that place with cash, people going to start working and cleaning up and go to work. Otherwise, if they have to wait until the telecommunications go back online, people are going to be depending on MREs for days and weeks on end.
I'm going to tell you, you don't have to think outside the box and they're going by the Homeland Security and FEMA checklist and the Norhtcom checklist and it won't work. We will see more misery in Puerto Rico if they don't stop thinking a different way. We had it happen in New Orleans. The city of New Orleans ran out of cash, the White House had to get involved to give them cash, but they couldn't wire it in. Puerto Rico is a cash economy now. How are those people going to get paid? That's almost a quarter of the population.
BURNETT: All right, General, thank you very much. I appreciate your time. I want to go to the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz joins me now on the phone.
Mayor, you know, we've just been talking about the Jones Act, which I know now your governor has said he wants waived and your representative to Congress has said she wants waived. General Honore who led the military efforts in Hurricane Katrina says it's a crying damn shame. The president of the United States has elected not to do so, even though he did of course for Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
What do you think is holding him back? He says it's the shipping industry he's worried about.
MAYOR CARME YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (via telephone): Well, I don't know what's holding him back. I know why he shouldn't hold back. When Irma came for seven days, this Jones Act was suspended. That meant that the cost of living and the cost of reconstruction materials went down 30 percent.
[19:15:07] So if -- it's better for the U.S. in terms of relief rather than only pouring millions of dollars into Puerto Rico. Just eliminating or suspending for a year the Jones Act, so that it's lowered 30 percent automatically. The cost of reconstruction is going to be enormous and if 30 percent can be lowered, that is just one very big first step.
So I think that's perhaps what the president doesn't really understand.
BURNETT: Yes. So he said, I'm just quoting him because I don't need to replay his full sound bite again, but he said he's thinking about that but we have a lot of shippers and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don't want the Jones Act lifted. That's the reason he gave today for why he hasn't done it in the case of Puerto Rico.
Do you think he sees you and other Americans in Puerto Rico as second class citizens?
CRUZ (via telephone): Well, yes, there were a lot of people that did not want slavery to end and it was a right thing to do. There were a lot of people that didn't want women to vote, and it was a right thing to do. There were a lot of people that didn't want marriage equality but it's the right and appropriate thing to do.
So sometimes one can reach accommodations. So sometimes one can do the right thing, the moral thing, the ethical thing and I'm sure that our brothers and sisters in those shipping unions can see how important this is to the livelihood of Puerto Rico. We are the only municipality in Puerto Rico that has union works.
So I know of the plight and I support the plight of our brothers and sisters in the unions. But this is a dire situation, this is a live or death situation. So I am sure that if placed in the appropriate context, just like it was repealed or revoked or suspended for seven days during Hurricane Irma, it can be done because it is the right thing to do.
There's always a lot of excuses not to do the right thing, but the United States that I know, where I lived for 12 years, where I went to school in Boston and got my masters at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, where I gave birth to my daughter, is a country that always chooses to do the right thing, and this is the right thing. Mr. President, this is -- get on with it and do it.
BURNETT: Are you disappointed with what he's done so far?
CRUZ (via telephone): Well, I think that there's a lot of good people down here. The FEMA workers are wonderful, they're passionate, they're committed. But there seems to be certain jurisdictional issues that don't let them get to do what they're supposed to do.
The planning phase must be over, we need to get the aid in people's hands. We've been blessed in San Juan, the mayor of New York, the mayor of Boston, the mayor of Chicago, today, the mayor of Miami Beach himself came down bringing 7,000 pounds of food and supplies.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Melissa Mark-Viverito from New York, Congressman (INAUDIBLE) from Florida, they all are pulling and they're coming directly to the municipalities to provide the much-needed aid that is coming because the municipalities are closer. You know, when people call 911, you don't say I'm sorry, you're calling from a county, you have to call from a borough, let me see if I can get your request through. You answer the mayday call no matter where it comes from.
BURNETT: All right Mayor, we appreciate your time, thank you very much.
CRUZ (via telephone): Thank you very much, we appreciate you being a voice that allows everyone to know that we appreciate what the U.S. is doing. We're just desperate and life-and-death situation and a humanitarian crisis, and we need it to be as fast and as good as we know it can be done.
BURNETT: Well, we hope that many are hearing your voice right now. Mayor, thank you.
And next, the president, he picked the loser in that big race last night, that Senate race. Is that why an irate Trump deleted all of his tweets about that race?
Plus breaking news, Russian bought Facebook ads, new information tonight on exactly who the Russians were targeting.
Plus Trump's revisionist history. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But on healthcare, we have the votes, we can't do it now because we have somebody in a hospital.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Who is he talking about?
[19:23:30] BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump embarrassed, infuriated after Roy Moore defeated Luther Strange who was Trump's favorite candidate in that Alabama Senate primary. Now his feelings being irate and embarrassed according to a senior White House official. Now, Trump actually has taken it further, he actually deleted a series of tweets supporting Strange. Going so far as to say, Moore quote, sounds like a really great guy.
Alex Marquardt is OutFront.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a newcomer to the national stage but has long been known to Alabama voters. That's why Judge Roy Moore thinks he will win Alabama's Senate seat.
JUDGE ROY MOORE, REPUBLICAN SENATE PRIMARY WINNER: They know what I stand for, I've been in politics for many years as a judge and I've got a strong support base.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): What Moore stands for is what many Republicans in Washington fear that they'll be associated with his controversial views predominantly rooted in the belief that the only source of law is God.
MOORE: We have to return the knowledge of God.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): More has suggested that 9/11 might have been punishment for the U.S. distancing itself from God.
MOORE: Therefore this iniquity will be to you as a breach ready to fall, swell out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. Sounds a little bit like the Pentagon, whose breaking came suddenly at an instance, doesn't it?
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Shootings like Sandy Hook as well.
MOORE: You wonder why we're having problems. Newtown, Connecticut? All across our country with killing, stealing, committing adultery? Because we've forgotten the law of God.
[19:25:04] MARQUARDT (voice-over): For Moore, it's morality that is missing in America today. MOORE: We wouldn't be having the demonstrations and riots and division in our society if we returned to one nation under God as it was.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Judge Moore was twice (INAUDIBLE) of Alabama's Supreme Court where he was chief justice. First, for refusing to remove a 5,000 pound monument of the Ten Commandments. Then for telling judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage.
I'm proud that the people of Alabama in not too many years ago adapted the constitutional amendment defining marriage is between one man and one woman.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): He has called homosexuality abhorrent and detestable and called Islam a false religion. And said he didn't believe that President Obama was born in the U.S. Then just days before the election, accusations of racial insensitivity referring to reds and yellows.
MOORE: Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What's going to unite us? What's going to bring us back together?
A president? A Congress? No. It's going to be God.
MARQUARDT: In a state as red as Alabama, Roy Moore is certainly the frontrunner in this election. The Democrats however are feeling a lot more confident, they're saying that they have much better chances as opposed if they're running against Luther Strange.
Now, the Democratic candidate is a former U.S. Attorney named Doug Jones and after Moore's victory last night, he put out a statement clearly targeting Moore in which he said, "After years of embarrassing headlines about top public officials in this state, this race is about people in Alabama choosing a candidate with character and integrity they can proud of."
There's an uphill battle with Democrats certainly seeing opening here for this election due to be held on December 12th. But before then, Vice President -- former Vice President Joe Biden will be down here next week campaigning for Jones. Erin?
BURNETT: Wish they (INAUDIBLE). Thank you very much, Alex.
And OutFront now, our Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston and Washington Examiner Staff Reporter Salena Zito.
Mark, so the president deleting tweets. Usually this is not the way it goes, right? He deletes a series of tweets in which he supported Luther Strange after he losses the primary.
But, you know, he doesn't delete a whole lot of other tweets that maybe he should, including maybe the one recently where he slammed Iran for launching a missile that they didn't actually launch. What's the president's logic here? I mean, he can't cover his tracks. Every one of these tweets gets a lot of retweets. They're not gone.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Erin, I think it's very unfair that you're asking me to try put logic next to the actions about President Trump. I mean, look -- I mean, the bottom line is that, Donald Trump is somebody -- and I think our viewers know this and even his supporters know it, maybe they don't embrace it.
He listens to what he says not what he does. He wants people just to believe him no matter what. Whether he is talking about crowd size for inauguration, whether he's talking about the healthcare votes today saying that we had the votes, but, you know, we're going to wait until January.
Donald Trump doesn't like losing, Donald Trump doesn't like being told that he's a loser. And guess what, this morning he was a loser when it came to this Alabama race.
BURNETT: He was a loser but it seems like he's way more focused on the fact that he's a loser than anybody else was, and therefor more people are talking about him being a loser. I mean, Salena, here he is before the race itself, talking about how worried he was that he would look like a loser. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm taking a big risk because if Luther doesn't make it, they're going to go after me. They're going to say, Donald Trump, the president of the United States was unable to pull his candidate across the line. It is a terrible, terrible moment for Trump. This is total embarrassment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, Salena, it really isn't a terrible, terrible moment. OK, he lost, but he's the one making it such a big deal and clearly it matters to him. I mean, he actually bothered to deleted tweets about Luther Strange, it's stunning.
SALENA ZITO, STAFF REPORTER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: It's also misguided. I mean -- I really think that there's this nuance in this race that people are missing including the president. This was not a national race, this was a very local race, with very local sentiments.
People forget that Republican primary voters are Republican voters, period, in Alabama are very upset with what former Governor Robert Bentley did. He's the one that resigned because he had an affair and he used taxpayers' dollars as part of this affair. And they had -- those voters never had a way to punish him.
But Bentley is the guy who appointed Strange, and, you know, sort of parted that mobile establishment. This was a more populism, and I think that's the important thing that we need to look back at voters and say, what's going on here? Oh, people are still pushing against back, against the establishment. They weren't pushing back against Trump, they are pushing back against the Mobile, at Alabama establishment. They didn't have a way to react to Bentley because he, you know --
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Right.
ZITO: -- scooted out the door. And that's like at the heart of this, populism still continues.
BURNETT: In which, in that case, you'd be right, the president is missing it.
BURNETT: I want to play a game for each of you. Mark, you first, I'm going to read you a quote, and you're going to tell me who said it.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: OK.
BURNETT: Are you ready? You can play this game at home everybody.
Quote, I have to produce my birth certificate, and I think most people would have to, but not the president of the United States. That's a very -- that's very strange indeed.
PRESTON: OK, it wasn't Donald Trump.
BURNETT: OK, it wasn't Donald Trump, you're right. So it was?
PRESTON: I don't know. You got to help me here.
BURNETT: It was Roy Moore, the guy Trump didn't support. That's what Roy Moore had to say that about Barack Obama. I mean, most people would say that was Donald Trump.
BURNETT: He's a lot like Roy Moore. Why did he even back the other guy, Mark?
PRESTON: Well, a couple of things. One is he was basically told by his political advisors, we stay with Luther Strange. He's been a supporter of all your policies all the way through, he did vote for his Supreme Court pick. And they're both conservatives.
I mean, let's face it. This is an uphill battle for Democrats anyway to win in December. A Republican is going to hold on to that seat. I mean, if you only have one dollar left, you know, feel OK about betting that dollar.
Roy Moore might be food for Donald Trump. Roy Moore is going to be really bad for congressional Republicans, especially Mitch McConnell. He will make his life a living -- I'll leave it there. BURNETT: Here's something that might good for us. Salena, I'll give
you the second one, maybe I've already given the answer, but here you go, I think we need something to stop illegal aliens from flowing across the border because they are a danger to our republic, danger to our homes, our families.
BURNETT: Roy Moore. I mean this is a guy who sounds like he's going to go full throttle for the law, which is something, by the way, a lot of Republicans in the Senate are not, Salena?
ZITO: Right. Look, the president didn't need to delete tweets. He didn't need to walk away from this. He didn't, if the reporting is accurate, which it probably was, be irate about it. It's still a win and he should still be sort of embracing the fact that populism is still going on, that sort of energy behind disruption, and so that in effect means that he is still popular.
I mean the people who voted for Moore don't like Trump less. You know, this is a very local election, that's the thing about special elections that people forget.
ZITO: It's really not national, even though it gets on the national stage.
ZITO: It's very much about the state that it occurs in, whether it's a congressional district or a U.S. Senate race.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both very much and I think you make the point. It's hard to think that somebody who said these things, someone who voted for them wouldn't also vote for Donald Trump.
So, in that case, it's nothing to be embarrassed about tonight, Mr. President.
Thank you both.
And next, the breaking news: the president selling his new tax plan and promising cuts for the middle class. Is it true?
And more breaking news, the Russian bought Facebook ads went far beyond the election. We have an exclusive report tonight about the scheme to generate discourse in the United States.
[19:36:51] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump on the road selling his sweeping new tax plan, because he is so good at it, he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a once in a generation opportunity and I guess it's probably something I could say that I'm very good at, I've been waiting for this for a long time. Our framework includes our explicit commitment that tax reform will protect low income and middle income households, not the wealthy and well-connected. They can call me all they want, it's not going to help, I'm going to do the right thing and it's not good for me, believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, Robert Reich served as labor secretary under President Bill Clinton. And Steven Moore who served as senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign.
All right. Robert, let me start with you. You heard the president. He says it's not good for me, believe me. Do you?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: No, I don't believe him.
Erin, the tax -- first of all, it's a framework. Every time you see coming out of Washington, whether it's Republicans or Democrats framework in connection with a tax proposal, you know that the most interesting details are not there because they haven't yet been worked out. But what we know from the framework, the so-called framework, is that, for example, the top rate is going to go down, also, it's going to be possible for people like Trump and also all the real estate and hedge fund partners, they're going to be able to get a pass through, which would dramatically reduces their tax rates.
And people at the bottom are going to pay a slightly higher tax rate, even though the standard deduction is doubled.
BURNETT: Going up from 10 to 12.
REICH: Yes, that's right, from 10 to 12. And the estate tax, that really now only hits the top two-tenths of 1 percent of Americans, the richer 1 percent, they want to eliminate. So, the biggest beneficiaries are the very wealthy and big corporations, and everybody else in the middle is going to have to probably pay a little bit more.
But the big news here, and I don't want this overlooked, is that the deficit hawks in the Republican Party are now silent. This is going to create a huge budget deficit, the estimates based upon past tax proposals that are similar to this are something like $3 trillion to $7 trillion.
BURNETT: On that point, Steve, just pause on that point, because I don't want to get into a whole fight about whether tax cuts pay for themselves in deficits. I want you if you could to respond to Robert's point about whether the rich are going to get a tax cut here, because it sure looks like from the argument that he made that they will. So, you can close the loopholes all you want, but if you're going to give him a pass-through over here, and lower the rate over there, is it true that Trump's just going to get a tax break and so is everyone like him?
STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER ECONOMIC ADVISER, 2016 TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Bob, great to be on with you again. I missed you, my friend, and you have never seen a tax cut you like, do you? For all the time I have known you.
REICH: I like tax cuts on the lower income people.
MOORE: OK, well, I'm going to make a case that I think this really will benefit the middle class. I mean, there's really going to be one of the big themes going forward over the next month or so.
A couple of things. I mean, look, the heart of the soul of the plan, Erin, is this business tax rate reduction and, you know, when Bob was talking about those so called pass-throughs, what those are, they're small business owners and we do believe that if you put more money into the coffers of small businesses, they will hire more workers.
[19:40:09] They will expand their businesses. They maybe purchase another truck for their business.
And think to a lot of men and women around the country who run businesses and they say that's exactly what they're going to do is, is put that money into the business and reinvest it.
Now, when it comes to the richest taxpayers, here's the deal, Bob, and I'd love your kind of response on this. What we're talking about, and as you know Erin, I helped Trump put this together during the campaign and this plan isn't much different from that. We do want to cut the rates a little more the high income people, but we're going to get rid of those deductions and those loopholes. And most of all --
BURNETT: So, Steve, here's the bottom line, though, are they really going to pay more?
MOORE: Well, we'll see.
BURNETT: Do you honestly think -- do you honestly think that they'll end up paying more?
MOORE: Well, no, I actually think this is going to be a tax cut for the American people.
BURNETT: Right. So, you believe that tax cuts pay for themselves. I know we're --
MOORE: Well, no, no, I'm not --
BURNETT: So, you're admitting the wealthy people, you think that they should get a tax cut?
MOORE: I think that our corporations are overtaxed. There's no question about that. I mean, I think even Bob Reich may agree with that, our highest in the world tax rate doesn't work very well for American competitiveness. I think our small businesses are hammered with 40 percent tax rate, some of the highest rates in the world.
This is about trying to bring those jobs back to America and I believe that it will. It worked for JFK, it worked for Reagan, and I think it will work for Trump.
BURNETT: They had rates of, what, like 90 something percent and they slashed them. I just always have to make that point when you make your point. We're talking about very lower rates now, going down even more --
MOORE: Yes, except not, except, Erin, let me just correct you one thing. Except -- you're right, that our rates on individuals are much lower than they used to be, you're quite correct about that. But where we really suffer economically, where I think the big bang for the buck comes in lowering these business taxes, and the Congressional Budget Office, Robert Reich, which is not a friend of the Republicans by any means, you saw the health care debate, they say 65 percent of the benefit of cutting the business tax rate goes to workers, middle class workers.
REICH: I will believe that when you tell me that actually workers have had a raise in real terms over the last 30 years, these big tax cuts, these big trickle down tax cuts that you've been advocating for all these years, Stephen Moore.
But let me just say, the corporations are now flush with cash, they don't even know what to do with all their money. They have never had this much money as a percentage of the total national product. They're buying back their own stocks because they don't even know what to do with it.
The wealthy in this country have never been as wealthy, have never taken home as large a percentage of the total economy as they are now taking home. You know, the top one tenth of 1 percent has more wealth than almost the bottom 90 percent of Americans. Why are we talking about a corporate and business and wealthy tax cut at a time like this? It makes sense at all.
MOORE: Because, Bob, you need businesses for jobs. It's that simple, without an employer, you don't have a job. So, we want --
REICH: You are wrong. But one thing that's very, very fundamental, it is the middle income and poor people who actually through their spending create jobs. Businesses are not going to invest in new jobs unless there are people who are purchasing. That's one of the problems we have had through the last 25 years. Why this recovery has been as sluggish as it has because the middle class and the poor don't have the money. BURNETT: Well, as you all point out, it's a framework. So, we don't
know what's in it, which means we're going to be talking about ad nauseam as they try and try to pass something.
So, we'll have you both back. Thanks.
MOORE: OK, thanks, Erin.
REICH: OK, thank you.
BURNETT: And next breaking news, how Russia sought to generate chaos in this country through a Black Lives Matter ad on Facebook. We have an exclusive report as we find out what these ads and this interference really was.
And flying high on the taxpayer's dime. Will Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price be fired for using private jets?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm looking at that very closely. I am not happy with it. I will tell you. I am not happy with it.
[19:46:33] BURNETT: Breaking news: Republicans and Democratic leaders on the Senate Judiciary Committee have reached a deal to issue a subpoena to Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chair. The goal is to compel him to appear in a public session, public, after chairman Chuck Grassley said Manafort's attorneys have failed to cooperate.
It comes as exclusive CNN reporting reveals that at least one Facebook ad bought by Russians during the presidential campaign was about Black Lives Matter. It was targeted to reach audiences in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore.
So, what did it say?
Our senior media and politics reporter Dylan Byers is OUTFRONT.
I mean, Dylan, how significant is it that Russia would try to target these two cities with an ad like this?
DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICS REPORTER: Well, it could be very significant, Erin, and the reason is, is that it shows the level of sophistication that these Russian ad buyers had in terms of understanding the American political landscape and also what their intentions were. The sources we've spoken with believed the intention of marketing a Black Lives Matter ad to cities like Baltimore and Ferguson, which had seen some of the most violent protests and indeed riots over police shootings of African-American men, understanding that those would be receptive audiences, whether they were receptive in the way that they supported Black Lives Matter or opposed Black Live Matters, understanding that means -- it tells us how Russia was trying to sow discord in the American political system generally, not just pro-Donald Trump, anti-Donald Trump, pro-Hillary Clinton, anti- Hillary Clinton, but really trying to get to the heart of some of these political and cultural battles that have been going on in America for many years.
BURNETT: So, Dylan, the context of this is, earlier today, President Trump tweeted, and just to quote a part of it: Facebook was always anti-Trump. That's part of his tweet.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is firing back tonight. What he's saying?
BYERS: That's right. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did two things, he first took the opportunity to say, look, Facebook was a positive influence on the 2016 election. I disagree with Mr. Trump's characterization. You know, we take incoming from the right and from the left, that tells you that we're a platform that speaks to all Americans and all Americans used it to participate in the election.
Second thing very quickly that he said, is he apologize for dismissing the notion that Facebook and misinformation on Facebook may have played a role in influencing the outcome of the 2016 campaign.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Dylan.
And now back to our top story, the breaking news from Puerto Rico, and now at this moment we have some new images of the grim extent of what is happening, the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.
For the first time, you're going to go to the small island of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico. There's no power there. There is no food there. There is no way for anyone who live there to let anyone who does not live there know that they are even alive.
Bill Wier is OUTFRONT tonight. He's back in San Juan.
Bill, you went to Vieques. I know that it was a very difficult thing to do and to see, but tell us about it.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Vieques, for those who don't know, is one of the more popular spots in Puerto Rico, million dollar homes, it's a favorite of people like Ricky Martin, but there's also 10,000 working poor Puerto Ricans who have been there for a long time. And for the last week, it's a black hole of information, nobody know who survived, who made it through the wicked winds of Maria.
So, we found an angel with a Cessna to take us eight miles east of the main island here, and it absolutely broke my heart. Here's a look.
WEIR (voice-over): Landing at what is normally a tropical paradise, the first impressions are shock, awe and dread.
It looks like a war zone. With every lush tree stripped and broken, the tarmac littered with shattered planes.
We catch a ride through the wreckage to the town center where the deputy mayor tells me all of the 10,000 residence survived the storm but a few of the most frail have died since. After a charity called Vieques Love brought in a few satellite phones, the battered locals wait in heat for the first contact with the world in a week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're out of food. We're running out of food and water.
WEIR (on camera): That is the kind of heartbreaking, soul-draining scene that's getting played out again and again as people look at her cry, as she gets on a sat phone for the first time.
Oh, my God. It crushes your soul to watch that and this is the line, this is a two-hour line of folks waiting to give proof of life to a wife, or a husband or a father, it's rough.
This is on officer who lives on the island, he is from the state national guard, Puerto Rican National Guard, but he can't carry a gun for security until he's activated and bureaucratic red tape is holding that up. Things are so primitive, they drive around in a speaker truck, letting people know when water is coming, if water is coming.
I just spoke to former president of the senate here in Puerto Rico, current senator who gave me the most compassionate plea from an official that they need a general, they need ships and they need help right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is something that needs and requires someone who knows how to distribute goods in the middle of a war zone.
WEIR: So, you're making a plea for marshal law?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm making a plea for marshal law. I'm making a plea for three or five days where we can distribute diesel, where we can distribute water, where we can get food. I mean, it's six days after the hurricane. It's just a horrible scenario in Puerto Rico.
We need orders and we need to follow certain amount of law. And right now, it's no man's land at night. After 7:00 p.m., it's no man's land and that should stop.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I lost everything.
WEIR: There is so much more from Vieques to share with you. I'm going upstairs write a script, we're going to cut it all day tomorrow. We'll show you the pain and heart break of those people who need help now -- Erin.
BURNETT: Thank goodness that you are able to raise awareness so more and more people can see this.
Bill Weir, thank you so very much. Really the difficulty of getting that, getting that back, getting that to you, cannot -- just make sure everybody knows that was not easy.
Next, Trump not happy with his health and human services secretary's use of private jets.
BURNETT: And tonight, CNN learning EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt used a private plane for government business. The news coming after President Trump refused to rule out firing his Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for his use of private plane. Let's just be clear, all of these private planes are being paid for by you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was looking into it and I will look into it. And I will tell you personally, I'm not happy about it. I am not happy about it.
REPORTER: What are you going to do about it?
TRUMP: I'm going to look at it. I'm not happy about it and I let him know it.
REPORTER: Will you fire him, sir?
TRUMP: We'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tom Foreman is OUFRONT.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): September 15th, 8:27 a.m., Secretary Price leaves Dulles Airport on a private jet with the White House's Kellyanne Conway. They fly to Philadelphia, tour an addiction facility and are back in D.C. by early afternoon. The price tag, according to "Politico", $25,000.
The same trip at roughly the same times on a commercial plane, likely be less than $1,500. On Amtrak, under $500. And his motorcade could have driven them to Philly in two hours and 20 minutes.
The president's response to such travel?
TRUMP: I will tell you personally, I'm not happy about it. I am not happy about it.
REPORTER: What are you going to do about it?
TRUMP: I am going to look at it. I'm not happy about it and I let him know it.
FOREMAN: Other examples from "Politico's" analysis, in June, a round trip to Nashville by private jet cost close to $18,000. While the secretary and his team could have taken commercial flights which, with government discounts, would have cost between $102 and $333 per person.
The secretary's office has cited his packed tight schedule as the reason he took five private trips in just one week this month.
"Politico" says during that Nashville trip, he had time for lunch with his son. In August, he took a private jet to an island in Georgia where he and his wife owned property a day-and-a-half before he spoke at a medical conference. And on September 13th, he took a private jet to Maine for a meeting the next day. Then, it was on to a health center in New Hampshire and back to D.C. Estimated cost: $40,000.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This wasn't a White House approved travel.
FOREMAN: In all, "Politico" cites 26 trips on private jets by Secretary Price costing about $400,000. The equivalent of all the federal income tax paid last year by 55 average American families. It's all pretty awkward for Price who used to berate other officials for using private jets.
TOM PRICE, HHS SECRETARY: This is another example of irresponsibility run amuck in Congress right now.
FOREMAN: Still, the secretary says the claims are overstated. He's made less than a dozen such trips.
PRICE: We've taken many, many trips in cars, sometimes four and five hours at a time. So, this isn't a routine.
FOREMAN: What's more, his department's travel policies are under review, and he does not expect any more until that's complete.
PRICE: We've heard the concerns and we take that very seriously and had taken it to heart.
FOREMAN: Well, we'll see how much they've taken it to heart. One of the things his office said, at one point, Erin, was that he wanted to get out of Washington and spend more time with normal voters. And I'd like to point out, there are plenty of normal voters if you ride in coach -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Tom Foreman, thank you very much.
And now, a major milestone. Women can drive in Saudi Arabia. The last country in the world to allow it. They've done it.
It has been against the law for about 40 years there, and it's a major step for the nation's new crown price, soon to be king, Mohammad bin Salman, who is only 32 years old.
Now, many women were jubilant. One female activist captured the sentiment, saying, quote, Saudi Arabia will never be the same again. The rain begins with a single drop.
She had been arrested in 2011 for traveling and challenging the ban.
Now, I've been to Saudi Arabia to report, including specifically on this issue, and what amazed me is even as clerics slammed the idea, saying things like women aren't smart enough to drive, there were women who defended the ban. They tell me that not being allowed to drive meant they can do other things in the car. They could use the time better.
They'd say women could be CEOs and got more degrees than men in Saudi Arabia. So, why do Americans focus on the fact they aren't allowed to drive? They'd say it was a superficial issue, not an issue of fundamental freedom.
Here's what a mother and daughter told me about the ban on driving and the law requiring them to wear the black abaya in public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: There's a limitation on driving (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me, it's not an obstacle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to limit you then, you're not strong enough as a person to do what you want to do really.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: These particular interviews were done in 2010. At the time, women in Saudi told me it would be another five years at least before they were allowed to drive, and they were pretty close. It's been seven.
There are a couple of ways to see this move and one is to celebrate it and it should be celebrated, of course. The second, though, is to highlight how far Saudi still has to go. Hours after the ban was lifted, one of the most popular hashtags on Twitter in Saudi Arabia was, quote, the women of my house will not drive.
Well, there is no turning back, but it's a real question whether a change in that law will mean anything more than a superficial change in a deeply patriarchal society where women still need a male guardian to allow them to leave the country.
Thanks so much for joining us. And don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere on CNN Go.
"AC360" begins right now.