Return to Transcripts main page


Mountain of Vital Supplies Stuck at Port of San Juan; Twitter Execs Speak to Congress about Russia; Rep. Scalise Returns to House Floor Months after Shooting. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired September 28, 2017 - 10:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, the mayor of San Juan made this plea.


MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN (via telephone): There are about 3,000 containers that are stuck there and act there's no reason at all. So my cry today is let's get it done.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Again, just miles from that stockpile, again, those trucks, thousands of them, you see people waiting in line for hours, for groceries, gas, clean water, others just looking for a way to communicate with loved ones, 97 percent of the island still without power. The White House did just announce it will waive the Jones Act. The law that limits which ships can deliver goods to the island. By the way, they waived this for Florida before Irma even hit.

CNN is all over the island covering the story. We want to begin with Boris Sanchez outside San Juan.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Poppy, the logistical issues on Puerto Rico are widespread. Getting resources to where they are badly needed has been a problem. Case in point, we're here outside an ice plant just outside San Juan, where dozens and dozens of people have been lining up since midnight trying to get ice, just a short while ago the owner of the ice plant came and told them there would be no ice today.

It is now the fifth consecutive day that people have been ling up here for hours only to be told they would not be getting ice for their food and medical products. They were extremely frustrated and they were asking us where they could find the relief goods that officials -- local officials, have been promising them. You've heard these shipping containers that are tied up -- some 3,000 shipping containers tied up in the main port in Puerto Rico.

We recently heard from the mayor of San Juan saying that she wishes she could essentially open the gates and get those shipping containers to where they need to go but she doesn't have jurisdiction over the ports. Another problem is actually getting truckers to go pick those containers up and take them to where they are needed.

One issue is communication. Cellular service is spotty at best. So communicating with those truckers is difficult. Fuel is another big problem in part because not every gas station is operational. Many that are, don't have electricity so people need cash to be able to pay for gas. Many banks and ATMs are shut down, in part because there is no electricity.

It is a gridlock of problems and officials tell us that they are doing the best that they can to deal with them, but here on the ground we are hearing again and again from people that they are not seeing the help that they need. Many people asking us where is FEMA?

I spoke with a father a short while ago a father of three, who told me that one of his children was asking for milk earlier and it drew him into a deep, deep pain because he knew that milk wouldn't be getting to him any time soon. John and Poppy?

HARLOW: Boris Sanchez there in San Juan. Thank you so much. How long is it going to be until those 9,500 containers just sitting there with these vital supplies are actually released from the port and sent to the victims of Hurricane Maria.

CNN spoke to the general manager of a shipping company trying to find out more about what's going on. Listen to this.


JOSE AYALA, VP AND GENERAL MANAGER, CROWLEY: We currently have approximately 3,000 containers full of emergency supplies, relief cargo. There's all kind of goods, commercial materials, construction materials as well, medicines, and everything, and all kind of goods. Food, there's a lot of food in these containers. There's also -- that are filled of food as well, poultry as an example, pork and others.

And so far, our terminal is completely up to its capacity, maximum capacity, and we have been able to dispatch barely 4 percent of our usual flow at our exit gates.

The problem has been with the logistics. The part of the supply exchange that moves the cargo from our terminal to the shelves or to the tables of the people of Puerto Rico.

Now, for those employees who have been able to get to their work place and those trucking companies as an example, they have their equipment available and ready, then they are facing the challenge of the fact that there's no fuel. So if you have the equipment, you have the drivers but don't have the fuel, then you definitely cannot afford to move the cargo.

If this continues on, if we're not able to start dispatching cargo, there's not going to be sufficient space to unload our next barges that are in line to come to the port.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And this is stuff that's coming from FEMA and from private companies, from the government? Where is it all coming from?

AYALA: It's all around. There are some emergency supplies, there's relief cargo from FEMA, there's food for DCC and Puerto Rico.

[10:05:05] All supermarkets, I mean, you name it. That is very sad and frustrating for whatever reasons that we have plenty of inventories in our ports. There's enough to supply the needs. It's just a matter, again, how do we move them to the final destination.


BERMAN: All right. Want to go live to Capitol Hill right now. We're listening to Democrats. They are talking about the aid to Puerto Rico and the difficulties that people on that island are having.

REP. NYDIA VELAZQUEZ (D), NEW YORK: Remember, our Puerto Rico -- sisters are American citizens. They have fought in every conflict, They have shed blood. They have died for our freedoms. It is morally incumbent upon us to help them and by us, I do not mean Democrats. I do not mean Republicans. I mean all of us.

To the Puerto Rican people right now, to the people who are collapsed in the airport trying to get off the island, to those of you in houses without roofs, waiting for the power to come back, worry, you are running out of drinking water. To those on the mainland, who are worried about their loved ones on the island, let me say this. We're going to keep fighting for you. Do not give up. We will not give up. Thank you.


The images are there for the whole world to see. Puerto Rico.


So let me call now one of the great leader, House Democratic Leader Pelosi.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA, MINORITY LEADER: Thank you very much, Congresswoman Velazquez for bringing us together this morning. Thank you for your ongoing commitments to the people of our entire country and that includes Puerto Rico. Thank you for sharing the grief of your family. You were born and raised there and came to America to be a historic figure here, one of the few women in Congressional committee to chair both committees of the Congress of the United States.

You share that proud heritage with Luis Gutierrez, whose family is from Puerto Rico as well as from Jose Serrano and Mr. Soto. He's half Italian.


But nonetheless, they are serious messengers to us on the ongoing of the challenges facing the people of Puerto Rico now. We can't make them whole right this minute, but we can give them hope immediately and that is what we must do.

We want the people of Puerto Rico to know that their plight challenges the conscience of our country, challenges our conscience and we must meet that challenge. And so, that would take the form, that would take the form of doctors, helicopters, heavy trucks, water, food, generators, temporary housing, medical supplies, that were need yesterday. We must move more quickly.

And to the people in the Virgin Islands we share your concerns equally and again, we want to give you hope as we try to make you whole. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands need resources. They need our focus, and they need the full commitment of this Congress and this administration now and into the future.

As sad as the situation is, it does provide an opportunity for the islands to redo their grids so that they will be leaders into the future of how people receive their electricity, their communication, and the rest. Right now we have some challenges in infrastructure there, helicopters can leapfrog over that, but as we rebuild in both places, to do so with leading the way into the future.

[10:10:09] This is a national emergency. Millions of our fellow Americans are in peril and we have to join with them. We're calling on our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans alike, to move quickly. Time, the most valuable commodity of all, which makes the biggest difference in how people can be -- needs can be addressed in the relief effort. Time is very important. So we want everything to move faster. To the extent that means acts of Congress, we have to move quickly as well.

But again, my college roommate, Sonya Supatha (ph), I haven't been able to hear from her, just anecdotal, but nonetheless indicative of what everyone is going through, when trying to reach loved ones there. It is, again, a challenge to our conscience that we will meet. These are all God's children. If we are people of faith, as we profess to be, we have to know and honor our responsibility to meeting the needs of all God's children. With that I'm pleased to yield to our distinguished whip, Mr. Hoyer.

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MINORITY WHIP: I want to thank Nydia Velazquez, Joe Serrano and my good friend, Luis Gutierrez, all who have a very, very personal relationship, but all of us have a responsibility and a relationship to our fellow Americans. Whether they live in Puerto Rico or they live in the Virgin Islands, 3.6 million of our fellow citizens are at risk, as we speak here on this platform, dire risk. A humanitarian crisis exists.

Many Americans are still trying to get in contact as the leader has said and others have said, with their relatives and their friends who are stranded and cannot get to the help that they need. Communications have been cut off. Power is out and will be out for months, perhaps longer in some places. Food, water, fuel, medical services, becoming more and more scarce. Hospitals are running low on supplies and medications and limited in their ability to care for people without power. I've talked to Secretary Price early this morning about the availability of dialysis. We have had people who need dialysis who have been without it for nine days. They are at risk and some have already died. This is a humanitarian crisis and demands the speediest, most robust reaction and action that we can take.

I am pleased that we now have a military coordinator. That's what happened in Katrina in New Orleans. General Honore was appointed and now we have General Kim. And that needs to proceed with all dispatch.

We have urged President Trump to muster every available federal resource, every available federal resource, which as he points out is unmatched anywhere in the world. If we want to do it, we can do it. You had a picture on the front page of "The Washington Post" of people wading through deep, muddy, probably polluted water, to get to help, to get to food, to get to water.

Frankly, the Corps of Engineers could build a pontoon bridge in a very short period of time. Given the humanitarian crisis now unfolding and the complexity of the challenges on the ground, a more robust federal response is required. I'm glad that the comfort, the ship comfort, the hospital ship, is on its way to Puerto Rico. It should have been and to the Virgin Islands, it should have been sent the day after the hurricane hit.

Governor Rossello has requested additional help from the Defense Department. I support him in that request. I hope the administration and we urge the administration and talking to Secretary Price today, urged him to meet that request.

Representative Velazquez, wrote a letter to the president requesting the appointment of a senior general. That's been done. Thank you Nydia for leading that effort. Thank you Luis and Joe Serrano and the caucus for leading those efforts.

We're calling on Speaker Ryan as you have heard to bring to the floor legislation that would provide emergency funding and enact other policies that will help those affected. I'm going to be talking about that in just a few minutes with the majority leader on the floor of the House of Representatives.

[10:15:00] I know he is -- he talked to me about going down there. I think he's planning on going down there. That's appropriate to do. But, but we need to get legislation right here on the floor making sure the resources, the personnel, the medical help, is available. We need to work together to help our fellow citizens, our fellow Americans, who live in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. They're as much America as Maryland, as Texas, as Florida. And we need to treat them the same.

We need to work together to help our fellow citizens, and we must act quickly. I am pleased to see the accelerated effort. It's never too late to do the right thing but those folks on dialysis can't wait another minute to save their lives and there are other stories just like that. I am now pleased to -- the chairman of the caucus here? The chairman of the Hispanic Caucus - BERMAN: That's the House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer right now, talking on behalf of House Democrats saying more needs to be done to help the people of Puerto Rico.

HARLOW: We'll be right back.


[10:20:20] BERMAN: All right. We do have some breaking news. Look at that. That is a message sent out by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, I'm back. Steve Scalise, of course, injured in the shooting at the House Republican baseball practice back in June. He's back at the House, in the Capitol, for the first time since he was shot and he will be speaking shortly. We will bring that to you the minute it happens.

HARLOW: Pretty great to see him back after three months of a lot of recovery.

BERMAN: Really, really tough recovery too. Some of those details only now becoming public this week.

HARLOW: All right. We will hear from him in just a minute. We'll bring it to you here, live.

In the meantime, Facebook will soon give Congress some details about 3,000 ads bought by Russians during the election. This morning, we're just learning how specific at least one of those ads was.

BERMAN: Sources tell CNN that specifically, people in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore were among those targeted in an ad that referenced black lives matter. CNN's senior media and politics reporter Dylan Byers joins us now from Washington. Dylan, what have you learned?

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICS REPORTER: What we've learned is that at least one ad, like you said, was targeted toward the cities of Ferguson and Baltimore. It was an ad that referenced black lives matter. Obviously those two cities were hotbed of racial tensions, violent protests in response to the police shootings of African-American men. So it demonstrates to us that the level of sophistication, the level of understanding that these Russian ad buyers had in terms of how they targeted the ads.

It's very likely we'll see similar levels of sophistication not just in terms of geographic targeting but in targeting to demographics, targeting to various interest groups. It also tells us that the goal here was, at least initially, not so much promoting one candidate over another, so much as it was just sewing discord in the American Democratic system. And, you know, basically amplifying the sort of incivility and hyper partisan culture that were already so familiar with.

Nevertheless, President Trump has come forward and criticized Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg saying that they were always against him, just like the mainstream media was against him. Mark Zuckerberg, of course, yesterday shot back and said look, we're not against anybody. We're an open platform. We have a diversity of ideas and we were good, ultimately good, for the election.

HARLOW: So, it's not just, Dylan, though, Facebook. I mean, your reporting is and we know execs from Twitter are going before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. They are going to be asked some questions, certainly, and the headline for "The New York Times" in all of this is that Twitter may have been used even more extensively than Facebook in the Russian interference campaign last year. We haven't heard Twitter brought up until now.

BYERS: No. And Twitter itself has been very silent in terms of what it's sharing with Congress. And, in fact, that meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee is happening as we speak. After that representatives from Twitter will head over to the House side for a meeting with House intelligence.

The study that "The New York Times" is referring to and various groups have been looking into this, there are so many ways to use Twitter to broadcast false information. You can even create what are known as bots which are automated accounts that will just pump out false information automatically. And so that's one of the areas that Intelligence Committees are going to be looking at.

Hopefully Twitter will be as forthcoming as Facebook was in terms of giving a full account of what they found so far. And again, that's just what these tech companies have found so far. As Senator Mark Warner has said, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. And I think -- with you and I and the public are hoping is that both Facebook, Twitter, Google, other tech companies will be as forthcoming with the American people.

HARLOW: 100 percent. Dylan Byers, thank you for the reporting. We appreciate it. We'll see what comes out of the meeting with Twitter execs and the Senate Intelligence Committee happening right now.

Joining us now David Kennedy, cyber security consultant and former NSA employee and Steve Hall, CNN national security analyst and retired CIA chief of Russia operations.

Steve, Dylan's reporting. What does it tell us about how specific this targeting actually was? I mean going after people in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, specifically, with messages about black lives matter?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Poppy, the first thing it tells us is the seriousness and amazing amount of resources that Russian intelligence services, who by the way are the ones who were charged with doing this activity by Vladimir Putin. But it shows the level of focus and the level of resources that the Russians are willing to put into this. And I think Dylan's reporting was an excellent piece.

[10:25:00] At the end he said something which is I think is really critical. I think there might be misunderstandings among some Americans who thought well I thought the Russians were doing this just to increase the likelihood that Donald Trump would win the election and that Hillary Clinton would lose.

HARLOW: Right.

HALL: While that's certainly true, it's -- there's a really deeper and more important goal for Vladimir Putin here with doing this type of activity, which is to divide the west, to divide the United States, to identify those really hot button issues in American society, like black lives matter, like immigration, like all of those issues, and trying to focus American attention on ourselves and not on Russia which is better for Putin because it protects his autocracy and allows him to act really however he wants worldwide without really getting much attention from the United States and the west. So that's the deeper goal here.

BERMAN: David, Democratic Senator Mark Warner says that million dollar question when it comes to Facebook is, how the Russians knew whom to target. Is he right?

DAVID KENNEDY, CYBER SECURITY CONSULTANT: Well, I think there's some legitimacy to that. If you look at how the Russians were targeting specific individuals or specific locations, it has a deep understanding around what we call psychological operations. It's a way of trying to change, you know, patterns of behaver to make it more towards, you know, a certain bias or hot button issues that are happening out there.

So the Russians have a very good understanding of what we're doing and targeting individual groups, different locations, based on geographic location, that are more enticing to those types of issues that are happening in their area.

So it's really big misinformation campaign that's going on right now, and it's been done for years and years and years and we used to do it in World War II when we dropped pamphlets and you know, broadcast radio stations and things like that. But the prevalence of social media is absolutely astonishing of how you can make something go viral very quickly and reach a large amount of audience with information that isn't correct. So it's pretty damaging right now and the Russians are using that very much against us.

HARLOW: Steve, let me get your take on what "Daily Beast" is reporting this morning because they were reporting that in addition to all of this, some of these Russian groups actually stole the identity of an existing, real life Muslim-American organization on Facebook, and then used that to push fake narratives, narratives including one that Hillary Clinton funded al Qaeda, that John McCain founded an ISIS. What would be the end goal in doing that?

HALL: Yes. Again, Poppy the end goal is identifying those issues in our society and in western society at large. And again, you know, the role of Islam and immigration and terrorism, those are all hot button issues which the Russians fully understand that we're fighting amongst ourselves about a lot of these issues and that west is fighting with itself about that.

And again, any time you've got the west fighting against itself, you have less attention paid to Russia, which is a goal that's really infuriating to me in a way because, of course, inside of Russia, none of this exists. You probably are familiar with the reporting that Facebook and other organizations themselves have been given a deadline by Russia to establish all of their -- to put servers that have Russian information or Russian identity information to put those in Russia. So they can be controlled by the Russian government. So it's the Russians using our own critical elements of open society, one of the reasons democracy can exist, against us and they're excellent at it, really good and it's really infuriating because none of that exists in Russia.

BERMAN: David, given what you call the psychological operations, what is the way that the U.S. can defend against it?

KENNEDY: It's a really tough problem because it's not just Russia doing it. I mean, we have all countries looking at cyber as a method of attacking your adversaries. We do the same thing to Iran, China, Russia and vice versa. So you know they're attacking private companies. This isn't like they're going after direct government entities where we can build the fences that way.

And granted -- our government is still trying to deal with that as well. So it's multiple fronts that we're getting hit and so for private organizations, such as google, Twitter, Facebook, that are very large social media presence and really the backbone of our tech.

We really need to start focusing on how to do we prove information, how do we validate information, how do we have, you know, teams that can actively look and remove information that isn't accurate in nature. And one of the implications of that we want free speech and promote information out there, but these, you know, social media companies probably need to be doing more where they're coming from and the types of information that's happening out there. It's going to be a real tough road and something that other countries recognize as one of our largest weaknesses right now.

BERMAN: David Kennedy, Steve hall, sobering conversation. Thanks so much, guys.

HALL: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Strike him down and he will be more powerful than you could possibly imagine. Steve Bannon, that's what they said after he was forced from the White House. Is he about to move on the Republican Party? And what does it mean for the president?

HARLOW: And Majority Whip Steve Scalise expected to speak on House floor. His first time back since he was shot at that Congressional baseball practice three months ago, a pretty extraordinary day for him and the country. You'll hear from him live in just a moment.