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CNN Exclusive: Fake Black Activist Accounts Linked To Russia; Price Says He'll Pay About $52K Of The Reportedly $1-M Price Tag For Private Plane Travel; Administration Calls Puerto Rico "Good News Story"; Desperate For Food, Water, Communication In Vieques. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired September 28, 2017 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Take a look at the Facebook page who says, "Watch another savage video of police brutality. We live under a system of racism and police are directly letting us know how they feel and where we stand." Joining us CNN Senior Media and Politics our report Dylan Byers. So this post, they were all designed by the Russians to try to amplify racial tension in the U.S., is that right?

[21:00:27] DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA AND POLITICS: That's right, the post coming from the social media campaign was designed, our sources tell us by an account linked back to the Internet Research Agency which has ties to the Kremlin. This campaign used both Facebook and Twitter to basically advance a message that would -- and posts and ads that would exploit the racial tensions that exist in this country effectively as part of the larger Russian goal of undermining American democracy, sowing political discord, contributing to an atmosphere of partisanship and incivility.

And they were doing this, Anderson, at a time during a campaign when race was sort at the forefront -- or at least one of the major issues going on in America at that time. Still is today, if you couple this with the reporting that we had last night, that one of the ads, a Black Lives Matter ad, was targeted at the cities of Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore. You begin to understand just how sophisticated the Russians were in terms of understanding the pressure points for American politics and American culture.

COOPER: Did this group have a big following online?

BYERS: In fact they did. If you look at the Facebook account now suspended for blacktivits. What you found that they had over 360,000 likes. That is more than the 300,000 likes that the verified Black Lives Matter Facebook page has today.

So, yes, so it's not just a question of the Russians being able or intending to influence American politics, that level of following suggests that they may have actually succeed in doing so.

COOPER: Were these accounts also promoting events?

BYERS: Yes, they were, and that's another area where you can sort of measure the influence that these accounts actually had. There are at least seven events we found that were promoted or broadcast by the blacktivists account. These events range from a 50th anniversary demonstration from the Black Panther Party to the anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray. And real events, Anderson, events that were actually attended by people, events that were covered by some media organizations. So what we're learning tonight begins to sort of help us understand and certainly, I think, help congressional investigators understand just how Facebook -- pardon me, just how Russia was able to use Facebook and Twitter to influence American politics.

COOPER: Dylan Byers, appreciate the reporting. Thank you, fascinating.

Joining us now is Steve Hall, former head of Russia operations at the CIA. Steve, is this sort of classic KGB stuff from the Cold War? I mean, back in the day, didn't they fund groups that they felt would, you know, sow discord or have a certain political agenda?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Anderson, it's sort of classic Russia Soviet KGB, Russian Intelligence Service 2.0. The Russians beginning really I think in about 2007 when they authored a significant cyber attack against the small Baltic country of Estonia. Really began to experiment and see, you know, how far can we go, what exactly can we do, using sort of the time honored traditions of influence operations of active measures, which they've done, you know, for decades inside of Russia, inside the Soviet Union and outside as well.

But now what they've learned to do is leverage the social media atmosphere in which we all live, in which we all protect at least here in the west we do.

And now we're really beginning to see the sophistication, the depth, the spread of what they're able to accomplish. And really, the sort of deep understanding of our society, I mean, put yourself, if you reverse the situation, you know, if I were the, you know, American Intelligence officer, I was told, look, you have to somehow understand Russian society to the point where you know what kind of people live in Russian town (INAUDIBLE), you know, (INAUDIBLE) and try to figure out the different message from those people, for those people. I mean, it's pretty complicated stuff even in open society where it's all public. You still have to do a lot of research. The Russians threw a lot of resources at this.

COOPER: Do you think that requires, I mean, presence in the United States? Sort of understand that, or is it the kind of thing, you know, anyone who's reading anything online can know, well, Ferguson, Missouri obviously is a flashpoint or, you know, Freddie Gray. I mean, you know, if you're following the news, you can learn an awful lot on that.

HALL: In my experience, sort of the question you're asking is, you know, in Intelligence parlance, the difference between an analyst and operations person. So, yes, you can read newspapers, you can even read, you know, the target language. You can read Russian or in the Russians case, you can read English and go through all of this stuff and try to figure it out.

[21:05:06] There's nothing, however, like having actually somebody on the ground who understands what propaganda themes. What covert action active measured themes are really going to resound best in a particular town or even in a particular community with the different groups. So, it's always better if you have somebody on the ground. That's one of the reasons you have a lot of Russians in the United States. But it's also why you need to get out and talk to the target audience that you're trying to get at. So it's better to have people on the ground. You can do some of it remotely. But it's best to have people right there in the middle of it.

COOPER: I mean, the Russian do have -- I mean, Russian Intelligence people have people just living in the United States who aren't directly connected to the Russian embassy or in D.C. or, you know, the consulate in New York. Just kind of -- to understand American society, am I wrong about that?

HALL: No, there's lots of different ways to skin that cat. What you're referring to there is what we talk about as Russian illegals, who are basically Russian Intelligence officers who are not under official cover.

Now, whether or not you would use a person like that directly in support of this type of thing, that would depend on what other resources the Russians have. But that's certainly a way to do it. Another way to do it is through the official presence. Just by Russian diplomats going about their business and talking to Americans. And, of course, it's also possible that there are Americans who have agreed to work with the Russians, perhaps, for example in the immigrant community. People who are originally from Russia, who speak the Russian language and would be willing to talk to, you know, Russian government officials. So there's a lot of different ways to get at it, especially if you're in an open society like the United States or really anywhere in Europe.

COOPER: Steve Hall, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

More breaking news, a new headache for the White House, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's costly flights on private planes and reportedly on air force jets, the tab taxpayers now topping a $1 million according to new reporting, POLITICO, it's $1million taxpayer money.

And that's not all. Today, spokesperson said Secretary Price would reimburse the treasury, but it turns out he isn't really doing that. He plans to only reimburse taxpayers for the cost of his seat on many of the private plane flights he took about $52,000, not the cost of fuel or the plane or the crew which is, obviously, a lot more. As if the seats could somehow maybe fly themselves. Our Aviation Correspondent Rene Marsh has more, she joins us now.

So I'm clear, taxpayers are picking up a tab, if POLITICO is correct, of roughly a million dollars for Secretary Price's travel since May, and he only plans to reimburse $50,000. Did he think that this would quiet the discussion about this? RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: I don't know. But clearly it is not. You are right. He's paying some $52,000 or nearly $52,000. He said, he wrote that check today.

Again, all of the flights that we're talking about here, it includes domestic and international flights. He flew 13 domestic flights, which translates to more than 2 dozen individual flights within the United States on private planes to conduct government business. And then today, as you mentioned, CNN learned that Price also flew on to (INAUDIBLE) international trips on military jets with his wife in mid May, he flew from Andrews Air Force base to Liberia, Germany and Switzerland before returning to the D.C. area. And then again in mid- August, he flew to Alaska, China, Vietnam, Japan and Seattle before returning to the D.C. area.

I do want to point out, though the use of military aircraft for a cabinet member is sometimes justified, especially if there is a need for secured communications when they are traveling. But at this point it's unclear if that was the case for Price on these trips. The agency did say, though, Anderson, that Price reimbursed the government for his wife's flight.

COOPER: And some of those flights were approved by the White House, correct?

MARSH: That is correct. The White House telling us this evening, our producer Kevin Liptak that they do review all of these requests, and that they limit this sort of travel to trips that are in line with the White House's greater mission. And clearly they believe these two trips, these two international trips that we're talking about tonight fell in that category.

COOPER: Also, some of these -- I mean, these flights were, flights were, you know -- I think early on the excuse from Price and his people was, well, you know, he's so busy, he can't wait to take commercial flights, sometimes he's got to get there. Some of these were places where commercial flights were readily available. I think POLITICO reported there were two flights from D.C. to Nashville. The day that he flew that, and where he was going to have lunch, I think, with his son, in addition to attend, I think, one or two meetings. So there were commercial flights. And sometimes he went days earlier to a place that he needed to be for an official purpose, so, obviously, a lot more to look into. Rene Marsh, appreciate it,

[21:10:03] There's even more late reporting, what the president makes of all this, and we'll bring that to you next. We'll also get the panels take, and ask them how they like their flight up here or train ride as maybe.

Later, reality check from our team of reporters on the grounds in Puerto Rico.


COOPER: We got new reporting just in on the president's reaction to his HHS Secretary pricy flights and his plan to reimburse the taxpayers for just a fraction of the cost. Two people familiar with the President Trump's thinking say tonight, that this partial repayment is not helping his case. The source has say that President Trump wants this matter resolved. And that Price's decision to pay only a fraction of the cost is fueling the story further. I want to bring in tonight's panel, .B. Stoddard, Scott Jennings, Tara Setmayer, Paul Begala and Michael D'Antonio.

I mean, I don't understand just from a public relations standpoint. They're sitting around in Tom Price's office and saying, you know what, we'll offer to pay just a tiny fraction of these flights, that's going to put the story to bed. That just seems to defy logic.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's an insult. The bill is a million dollars, he's paying $52,000. Who's picking up the rest? We are. The taxpayers are. Price is (INAUDIBLE) frequent lair miles because -- completely dishonest.

COOPER: How long were you thinking that one --



MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, DONALT TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: That's right, when I was taking to the train. It is consistent, though, with the president's own style. This is president who when he visited a site where he wanted to build a golf course in Scotland. Decided he would barter a photo of himself for dinner for his entourage. So, he is a guy who does understand getting as much as you can, for as little as you can pay.

In this case, it makes it look bad for the president. So he's not going to tolerate someone else doing it, but I think he understands the motivation.

COOPER: But also, just from the drain the swamp, I mean, you know, which such a good phrase is for this president. This is you know, as I said earlier it's flying over the swamp in the jet.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A lot of Republicans have railed against this kind of behavior in the past, a lot of people who I'm sure voted for Donald Trump.

COOPER: Tom Price rallied against -- Nancy Pelosi doing it, you know.

JENNINGS: To be clear, though, there are legitimate reasons why Captain official might fly non commercial or might fly a military. And it appears to be especially in the international case. Some of his travel was legit. He was going to things you would expect the HHS secretary to go to. That have being said, I think you can go to the refrigerator and get the butter and jelly, because Tom Price is toast. He's not going to survive. No, no.

[21:15:07] This has taken on a life of its own. And what do we know about the president? He hates bad press. And he doesn't like it when his people are giving him bad press. He's motivated by this, as well he should be. And somebody in the White House approved these trips and they're going to have to answer for it too.

So my suspicion is, Price won't survive it. And this is one of those things I would just fast forward to the future. If Democrats control either chamber of the Congress, these kinds of issues right here, lead to investigations, which lead to more investigations and more documents and more stuff. So, the administration has to be very careful with these kinds of things.

COOPER: I just want to play what Tom Price said when he was in the Congress about fancy flights and Nancy Pelosi.


TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, I want to say to the speaker. Don't you fly over our country in your luxury jet and lecture us on what it means to be an American.



SETMAYER: -- it doesn't. You know, the hypocrisy, I think, is the biggest problem here. Because to Scott's point, yes, there are legitimate times where you need to take these kinds of jets, when I worked for the congressman he would take military flights because he was subcommittee chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. So it was legitimate travel.

However, those things had a budget. They had to be approved by the full committee chairman. And sometimes he was denied because of the costs.

In this case, though, it's not only Tom Price, now there's a report out that the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was taking private jets to his home in Montana, and coupling that with work, and to the Caribbean islands. You're going to see a can of worms now opened up, seeing how many people have done this, from the treasury secretary taking military flight to see the eclipse, but he's checking on the gold in Fort Knox, I mean, this is a problem. The EPA, that's right.

So, when you're supposed to be, and as a conservative, and Tom Price, for me as a conservative, we always champion being stewards of the taxpayer's money. The congressman I worked for, used to give money back to the treasury every year, becaue if you didn't use the money for the budget money in the congressional office. So, how Tom Price after railing against this, and then the whole drain the swamp thing survives this, I don't know.

But also, what has Tom Price done as HHS Secretary. It's been a failure with health care, which is his primary responsibility up to this point. He doesn't really have any wins to point to. Why would Donald Trump keep him at this point?


A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: I think that's right, he's not going to. Donald Trump knows that his supporters will let him do anything, which is why he made the comment about shooting someone on 5th Avenue. He and his daughter have gotten three trademarks each from the Chinese government. He has not separated from his businesses. He is now paying for his legal fees while his staffers go bankrupt with their own lawyer fees out of Republican National Committee donations. But he doesn't like other people embarrassing him with this stuff. And he knows this will resonate with the people that put him in office. He can do no wrong, but all these names we are talking about. And this kind of -- maybe some trips for legitimate but a million dollars since May, it's not going to fly.

COOPER: It's just so interesting to see people caught up in something like this. Because, you know, initially, it's -- I'm so busy, I have to take these flights. And then it turns out, oh, lo and behold, I go to St. Simeon island two days early with my wife, because, you know, I happen to have land there and this conference in two days later. So the idea that, well, I couldn't get a commercial flight there, you got two extra days, you could probably find a commercial flight.

SETMAYER: And there's government negotiated rates. When I was government employee and I travel for official business you could get the government rate which is, they're set for certain flights in certain areas, so often times it's not exorbitant prices you would have to pay if you flew commercial. And not for nothing, but the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden used to take the train to Delaware, OK. So, if the vice president can do it and his entourage and everything that goes along with him, then I think the secretary of HHS could take Amtrak to Philadelphia.

COOPER: Right, he flew from D.C. to Philadelphia. I mean, just getting to the airport --


COOPER: -- that takes.

SETMAYER: It's about an hour and 20 minutes to take the train to Philadelphia, by the time he get on the flight, drive there. It does not pass the smell test.

COOPER: Does anyone here think this has blow back? I mean, you talked about others, you know, Pruitt, others, do you think it sort of raises then that issue? I mean, Pruitt's building that what sound proof booth --

BEGALA: Yes, he's Maxwell Smart of the EPA. He's built a sound proof booth for himself with taxpayer's expense. And I do think this is a sort of, I don't know Donald Trump, I think this sort of news can shock him, anger him, I'll tell you what he knows, he knows his brand. And this is completely contrary to the brand that got him elected.

SETMAYER: Brand, but not the person, to Michael.

BEGALA: That may be, I think Price is gone, and I think there needs to be -- if I were advising him, honestly, I'd say, you have to protect that brand. Get a top to bottom review of all of this wasteful spending that your people have been doing and get rid of them all.

[21:19:59] COOPER: We got tot take a quick break, when we come back we're going to have more, first CNN accompanies a family from Puerto Rico who returned home for the first time since Maria hit. We'll show you what they found next.

We'll also show you what's happening in Vieques.


COOPER: The Trump administration today had words about hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.


ELAINE DUKE, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I am very satisfied. I know it's a hard storm to recover from, but the amount of progress that's been made, and I really would appreciate any support that we get. I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.


COOPER: Well, the president himself tweet a word of praise tonight for the effort. And earlier today, the pentagon named a three-star general to coordinate relief efforts on the ground. He took heat today for waiting so long, eight days. And the entire relief effort is taking heat from Puerto Ricans where the human need is obviously tremendous. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now from San Juan.

So Sanjay, last night you reported on a clinic that was running out of fuel. What happened to them?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they were able to get fuel with just a couple of hours left, from a local municipality. They weren't sure if they were going to get it. The truck pulled up and that was able to give them some fuel. But then, they got a new problem, which we found (ph) today, and that is that they're not sure how long their water supply is going to last. So they're rationing it. They're accepting new patients and that has an impact as we saw, I mean, visit some of the shelters way outside the San Juan.


[21:25:01] GUPTA (voice-over): This is 62-year old Josefina Alvarez' reality. Look at what happened to us, she pleads. Nobody is taking care of us. For two weeks, Ms. Alvarez has been here in a shelter, an hour outside of San Juan, but may as well be in a different island all together. And like thousands of others she was becoming really sick.

ESTHER MORALEZ, VOLUNTEER DOCTOR: We have no hospital to get her, because all the emergency are closed. Because they have no electricity and we have no place to get her. She's getting more complicated.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Esther Moralez, volunteer at the shelter, has tried everything to get Alvarez to a hospital.

(on camera): The ambulance we saw just left.

MORALEZ: Yes, because they have no authorization from their bosses to get --

GUPTA (on camera): That seems ridiculous.

MORALEZ: Tell me about it.

GUPTA (on camera): We're in the middle of a disaster, in the middle of a crisis and you're waiting for paperwork?


GUPTA (on camera): This is a very treatable problem under any other circumstance.

MORALEZ: Yes, sure.

GUPTA (on camera): Get her to the hospital, put in an iv.

MORALEZ: Probably few hours of iv antibiotics and then she can go home.

GUPTA (on camera): What happens if she doesn't get this?

MORALEZ: Well, she may get infection to the blood and complicated with sepsis, and even death.

GUPTA (voice-over): There's no communication anywhere here. So we give her our satellite phone to try and call for help.

Puerto Rico's secretary of health finds a hospital for Alvarez, but then the same problem, how to get her there?

GUPTA (on camera): We can take the patient. I'm a doctor. We can take the patient ourselves. I know time is of the essence here. The secretary is there.

MORALEZ: Well, he already accept the patient, so she --

GUPTA (on camera): We can do that.

You can't even believe what's happening here, I mean, she's -- there's no power, there's no water. She's a diabetic, she doesn't have insulin. She has an infection that could threaten her life. No ambulance will take her to the hospital. That's what's happening here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK. GUPTA (on camera): It's OK. Right here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She wants to sit on this side.

GUPTA (on camera): Because of the ulceration, yes.

Move the wheelchair up, please?

There's nothing about this that makes sense. I mean, look what we're doing here, we're transporting a patient -- this is not an ambulance, but it's the only thing we really have right now to get her to the care that she needs.

There are probably thousands of patients who are in similar shelters, no power, no water, no medications, no way out, there are probably thousands more who are still in their homes. They haven't been able to get to a shelter. So she's just one example of what's happening here.

She's been desatting (ph) a bit. So we're trying to just get her into the triage here.



GUPTA (on camera): OK, one more.

Watch out. Watch out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jason, I need lift truck, please.


COOPER: Sanjay, how is she doing now, do you know?

GUPTA: Yes, well, she's in this tent that's just behind me over here, it's one of the master disaster management assistance team tents. She's going to need surgery, we're told. She has an infection. To adequately clear that infection, she's going to need an operation. She's getting good care, Anderson, but this is likely something that could have been prevented. Going back to something you and I have talked about quite a bit. These are preventable problems, if they are treated early and with pretty simple medication which she just didn't have access to at the time, Anderson.

COOPER: There's a discrepancy in the number of hospitals that are said to be open and running something. I'm wondering why that is.

GUPTA: Well, I think the discrepancy is that if you give a hospital fuel for the next six hours, are they really considered up and running? Yes, technically they are, they have power, the problem is, imagine trying to run a hospital like that? Would you take new patients not knowing that you may not have power to adequately treat them, you know. By the time evening comes around. That's the real issue, if you're running out of fuel, if you're running out of water, hospitals are buildings that cannot functional at all without power, that you can't put in a suture, you can't get on electronic medical record, you can't give a dose of insulin. You need power for everything. So, if there's not a consistent source of that, it's not really a hospital, that's up and running. It's not a hospital that's going to take new patients. It may meet the criteria, but it's not really doing the service for the people who need it.

COOPER: Sanjay, in some of these towns who are cut off, I mean, there are people who need medication that they have to take every day. Whether it's HIV medication or medication for other, you know, illnesses that they were dealing with before the storm. What does somebody do in a remote area? The pharmacy is close. Now with the hospital shut down. And the roads are impassable.

[21:30:12] GUPTA: It's just really tough, Anderson, they have not, in that area that you just saw in the report, they had not seen any kind of help. I didn't see any help there so I asked people, look, over the last eight days what have you seen? They haven't seen help. I mean, there's a lot of suffering going on right now. People are still trying to get out of their neighborhoods, getting into these shelters. Many of them haven't gone to the hospital. You'd be surprised when you look at some of the hospitals in the further areas, there's no lines there. And I thought, well, maybe that means there's not that many people who need care. But what we're finding out, they just haven't shown up to the hospitals yet. They're still in the shelters. They're still in their homes. They need those medications absolutely. And we hear that many of those medications are on the island. Now they have to get to the people who need them.

COOPER: Yes, distribution a key problem. Sanjay, appreciate you being there. We'll continue to check in with you.

The administration calls its response to Puerto Rico good news story, something -- else entirely to millions of Puerto Ricans into millions more with roots (ph) on the island. Some have gotten back in touch with family members. Some very few had gotten a chance to reunite with them. They're the lucky ones. CNN's Brynn Gingras traveled to San Juan with a family. She joins us now. This family was returning to make contact with their other family members. What happened when they landed in San Juan?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, not only make contact with their family members, but also see their home. They were stuck on the mainland for the last week. Three times their flights were cancelled. And then finally, they got on a flight from Philadelphia to San Juan, and we're on that flight with them. I want to you their names, Carmen Delgado and her husband Eduardo. And I go to tell you, Anderson. At times, Carmen was looking out the window of the plane. She is crying. When the plane actually landed she cheered. There were such a huge cheering going on, on that plane. And then when we got off, it was really just chaos, the airport was chaos, the couple was frantically looking for their two children who were meant to pick them up at the airport but, of course there's really no cell phone communication here on the island. So they really could not connect. So what happened was, they hopped in a car with us, we drove them about an hour outside of San Juan to their hometown called Humacao.

And as we're driving, Carmen was looking out the window, and she described it like this, Anderson, she just basically said, this whole island looks like a fire went through it. I mean, there is just nothing around. Everything just seems bare. And then when we actually got to her house, it was just her, her husband and some family members, not her two children. And it was even worse, she was gasping for air going up the steps to her house. There's no roof on her house, there's barely any walls. At one point, Anderson, she turned to me and she said, oh, my gosh, I got to sit down. And watch how she took this all in.


CARMEN DELGADO, REUNITED WITH FAMILY IN PUERTO RICO: This is the living room. That's the kitchen. We used to have three bedrooms. I'm really shocked. Really shocked, really shocked. I think what goes through my mind is how much time it's going to take us to put this back together.


GINGRAS: Anderson, this is a home that she and her husband built. They lived there for 20 years. All wiped out by this one storm, Anderson.

COOPER: And the family was eventually reunited, right?

GINGRAS: Yes, absolutely, Anderson, you know, they waited three weeks to just get back on to the island, and then they waited about an hour at that house. And I can tell you, they felt like that hour was much longer than the three weeks. Carmen sat there looked at the road, waiting for the car to come down. And finally when they spotted it, this was the reunion we witnessed.

And, you know, what she told us was, I may not have a house, but I have a home. And she meant by that was, I have my family. That was what was most important to her, seeing her two children, having her husband there. And she told me what's next is three things, we pray, we wait and we hope. And I thought that was very poignant, Anderson, because that is what they are (INAUDIBLE) hoping resources come to them. They are hoping that they can rebuild, and they're hoping it happens sooner than later, of course, Anderson.

COOPER: A lot of families looking for reunions just like that. Brynn appreciate that.

The acting Homeland Security Secretary also said she's, "Very satisfied with disaster relief efforts from Puerto Rico." What Bill Weir found in Vieques does not really back that up in the Vieques, to put it mildly. We're going to give you his report next, and also, Marc Anthony joins us ahead.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Just picked up by Maria and thrown here. And look at these over on this side.

(voice-over): Broken planes are just the first signs of Maria's strength. The entire island is ravaged from the swanky W Hotel to the boats of mosquito bay.

[21:35:04] (on camera): That is the cabin.



COOPER: Well, the president and other government officials are saying about relief efforts in Puerto Rico, stand in contrast to what CNN reporters are finding on the ground in many places. People running out of food and water, desperate for way to communicate with their love one, just to let them know they're alive. CNN's Bill Weir found that and more when he traveled to Vieques, part of Puerto Rico, east of the main island. Even getting there had its own set of challenges. And what he found take a look.


WEIR (voice-over): We lift off from San Juan, a route Steven has flown hundreds of times. But this is the scariest sky traffic he's ever seen.

(on camera): He said, you could sense the tension in the air traffic controller's voice.


WEIR (voice-over): The airports have no working radar, so every slow Cessna and every fast jet is flying by sight in a dust filled sky.

PAULI: The air space is so crazy. It's actually dangerous right now.

WEIR (voice-over): We crossover resorts, and neighborhoods, all shattered by Maria. And eight miles later, touchdown amid shattered airplanes, some of the first outsiders to reach Vieques since the storm.

[21:40:08] (on camera): It just picked up by Maria and thrown here. And look at these over on this side.

(voice-over): Broken planes are just the first signs of Maria's strength. The entire island is ravaged from the swanky W hotel to the boats of mosquito bay.

(on camera): That is the cabin of a Catamaran for tourists called the Naughty Mermaid. If it looks a little bit odd, it's because it's flipped upside down by what the locals say were 200 mile an hour winds.


WEIR (voice-over): In happier times, the glow in the dark plankton that lives in this bay helps lure the tourists to drive the economy. There is no salvaging the upcoming high season, but that is a worry for later. Right now, it's about survival.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We out of food. We're running out of food and water.

WEIR (on camera): That is the kind of heart breaking, 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.


WEIR (on camera): How does that feel? Can I see your eyes? Can you move your sunglasses for me?

DAILY: We're doing all right.

WEIR (on camera): Yes, yes.

DAILY: It's tough, we need help, you know. So go back and tell them.

WEIR (on camera): That's why I'm here, brother.

DAILY: Go back and tell them. We need help. Tell the president, our senators, everybody needs help here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell RJ I lost everything.

WEIR (on camera): After the storm blew through, you flew down here with a bag of satellite phone?

ROBERT BECKER, RELIEF ORGANIZER: First light. We had a lot of folks in the U.S. that were stepping up and contributing. And we decided the most important thing was to establish communication because we weren't hearing from anybody.

WEIR (on camera): When is help coming?

(voice-over): "There are a lot of people who promised to bring supplies but it hasn't arrived yet," the deputy mayor tells me. Red tape seems to be their biggest enemy.

MARK MARTIN, VIEQUES CONSERVATIVE AND HISTORIC TRUST: Relief efforts and the aid somewhat like may be coming. We're here and we're trying to get those coordination, those clearances issued, those orders to be issued so we can get them to the island. It's feeling this type of pressure.

(on camera): Yes.

MARTIN: And the tensions are running high.

WEIR (on camera): Do you feel American at moments like this? Do you feel neglected in moments like this? Somewhere in between.

EDUARDO BHATIA, MINORITY LEADER, PUERTO RICO SENATE: I think we all need to take a deep breath and say, you know, we are a U.S. citizens. It's been a 100 years since Woodrow Wilson in 1917 made us U.S. citizens. It should mean something. And right now, we are -- we are a forgotten island and that shouldn't be.

WEIR (voice-over): For years, the U.S. navy used this island for target practice, until the locals got fed up. What better way to make it up to them, by storming the beaches with aid instead of bombs.

BHATIA: This is something that needs and requires someone who knows how to distribute goods in the middle of almost a war zone.

WEIR (on camera): So you're making a plea for martial law?

BHATIA: I am making a plea for martial law. I'm making a plea for having three, four, five days where we can distribute diesel, where we can distribute water, food. I mean, it's been six days after the hurricane, and it's just a horrible scenario in Puerto Rico.


WEIR (voice-over): Brittany moved here from Brooklyn four years ago. Now she's helpless, because she has no cash in a cash only society.

LUKOWSKY: Thank you. I love you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready? It's going to be all right, OK?

LUKOWSKY: I have no [ bleep ] money. They won't let us get money, and I can't use my debit card. I don't know what else to do, please. I don't even know what to say.

WEIR (on camera): Here's a few bucks.

LUKOWSKY: This is so stressful. We're OK. We're not going to die, but like there's no help. This is the only help. Robert Becker saved everybody here. I don't know what else to say but private citizens have come through for us, and no one else really has.


COOPER: That's the situation in Vieques, it is and counting, Bill Weir reporting.

Amid the crisis for help in Puerto Rico, some celebrities are trying to answer the call. I spoke with singer, Marc Anthony, about how he is helping out. We'll talk to Marc ahead.



[21:48:50] COOPER: Well, it shouldn't surprise anyone that even basic needs are beyond the reach of so many of Puerto Ricans tonight. It's really basic needs as CNN's Ivan Watson discovered at a river crossing where bridge have been sweep away.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The wire that they're hanging on to has been set up by residents of the town. This is their improvised method for trying to reach the outside world. We just spoke with a couple who had crossed this way and then walked two hours to the nearest supermarket to try to get bread, and food, and rice for their children and then had to walk two hours back.


COOPER: We're getting the barest essentials things we all take for granted are struggle. Fortunately, help is coming from the private citizens, public figures, obviously, from Federal officials as well. Singers Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez have created an alliance of artist working together for Puerto Rico. I spoke with Marc Anthony here earlier.


COOPER: Marc, the organization you founded, just explain what it is and what kind of help you hope to provide to people in Puerto Rico.

MARC ANTHONY, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Well, Jennifer and I, I think it was minutes after we learned that it was imminent that the hurricane was going to hit Puerto Rico, we got in contact with each other and we formed this alliance called Somosunavoz, and which means we are one voice.

[21:50:11] You know, the first thing was getting sprint down to Puerto Rico with 10,000 hot spots and 100 generators. They flew down on a 747. And we opened up distribution channels for all the goods. We negotiated with Norwegian cruise line so that they can ship down there. That's how it started.

And so now subsequently we formed an alliance with all these artists and between us we have close to 1.4 billion followers. And that's our way of ensuring that we keep this, you know, present.

COOPER: Earlier this week you tweeted saying, "Mr. President, shut the f--k up about the NFL. Do something about our people in need in Puerto Rico. We are American citizens too." I mean, at this point, several days later, are you satisfied at all with the response from FEMA, from the department of Homeland Security, from the president or the needs are so great, obviously.

ANTHONY: I have to say that the dialogue -- I have to say that the dialogue that I've heard in the past couple of days is much more palatable. And they say that help is on the way, and I believe it. And if it's not true, you'll hear from me again. But, yes, I'm glad that this is back on the news. It's being covered the way it should be because this is an absolute catastrophe. COOPER: When you see the images that are coming out of Puerto Rico, and there's areas that, you know, are incredibly difficult to get to. It's not even easy to travel outside San Juan. There's people, you know, a lot of people without electricity, obviously without cell service. There's people who need medication, just basic, you know, insulin, the kind of medication people, you know, take for granted because they're able to get to a pharmacy that's no longer possible in some areas. When you see those images, what goes through your mind?

ANTHONY: It's just absolutely devastating. And we're here to sort of funnel all efforts. Instead of every artist being an island, we all got together and on it's just all efforts can be focused, you know. I just got a text from Bruno Mars who said, Marc, how can I get water down there? I said let me help you with that, and so it's that. And I'm really proud that all these artists got together. And we're more powerful unified. And we can keep it on the news. We can really make a difference in telling people that there's still a need.

COOPER: Marc, I appreciate all you're doing, you and everybody else in the community. Thank you so much.

ANTHONY: Thank you so much, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, if you'd like to help Marc Anthony in his efforts, you can go to the website you've been seeing on the screen, Again, that's You can also check out for other ways you can impact your world.

Coming up, something to make you smile at the end of this very difficult day, "The Ridiculist" is next.


[21:57:05] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist" and tonight we're talking about sports mascots. You know, people who dress up in costumes as lions and tigers and bears, will have you all the service of entertaining fans, all ages at sporting events. Good, clean, fun for the whole family. That is until you pit them against a bunch of kids in a football game which is when the paws (ph) come out, before the cartoonist oversize paws.

During halftime at a recent Vikings game a bunch of mascots took on a bunch of kids and wouldn't you know the University of Minnesota mascot "Goldy the Gopher" just hauled off and took out a 7th grader on the five yard line.

Let's see that again from a different angle. Yikes. Ouch. Ouch. That's right the Gopher just knocks the 7th grader right over.

Meanwhile that demonic penguin or crow or whatever is just along for the ride, apparently. And, yes, we also have this in the slow motion.

The coach of the 7th grader who got Golphered says the player was not hurt, thankfully, and that the kids actually got a kick out of this going somewhat viral. And it's a good thing the kids are good sports about it, because the "Goldy the Gopher" is even talking thrash about this on Twitter for the University of Minnesota coach and all to see, "Put me in Coach Fleck! I think I still have some eligibility left."

But two things, how does he tweet with those paws? And what exactly is up with mascots?

If you do in an extremely low impact Google search you can find clip after clip of mascots just palming (ph) kids on football fields all across this great land. Unicorns, and was that -- wait, was that Spongebob Square Pants?

Wait, is that -- that looks like Spongebob.

What are some of these mascots, after all? I guess -- this is that a horse or some giant -- there's some giant baseball heads in there.

Listen, I'm not going to pretend I can even do play by play of a football game. It's just a bunch of mascots tackling kids and then seeming pretty proud of themselves about it. That's the odd thing.

Let's see the slow motion of the Golpher again, shall we?

See, this actually proves a theory I've had for about a year now that wherever someone is dressed up like a Gopher, somebody around him is going to fall down. Granted, unusual theory I know. But hear me out. I developed immediately upon seeing the unforgettable out takes from an ad for the white bear Mitsubishi car dealership in Minnesota. It's one of my favorites.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wore the wrong socks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wore the wrong socks. Have you tried the hot dogs here? I didn't get my -- I didn't get my deposit back.

Mitsubishi is a proud sponsor of Golden Gopher hockey.


COOPER: I'm going to be honest with you, I could spend a whole night watching that bear fall on his ice. Being a mascot is a sometimes dangerous, sometimes (INAUDIBLE) anonymous moot fuzzy job, but it seems they've found a way to get their aggression out and at the end every mascot has the say on "The Ridiculist." Thanks for watching. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news.