Return to Transcripts main page


Governor Unaware of "Inspections" in Trump's Tweet; U.S. Task Force Brings Aid to Stranded Community; Trump Plans to Visit Hurricane-Ravaged Island Tuesday; Trump to Tillerson: "Waste of Time" Negotiating With North Korea; Mixed Messages From White House on North Korea; Families Come Together to Help Loved Ones in Puerto Rico; Hundreds Injured In Clashes With Spanish Police; New Season Of "This Is Life With Lisa Ling" Tonight 10P.M. E.T.; SNL Mocks Trump On Puerto Rico Response. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired October 1, 2017 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:51] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome again everyone and thanks so much for joining me this Sunday, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin this hour with President Trump, in just two days he plans to travel to Puerto Rico for a firsthand look at the hurricane devastation and recovery effort.

But in the meantime, he continues to brag on Twitter about a job well done saying in part, "people are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by FEMA and our great military. All buildings now inspected for safety. Thank you to the governor of P.R. Puerto Rico and to all those who are working so closely with our first responders. Fantastic job."

Well, Governor Ricardo Rossello says he's not sure what inspections the president is referring to.


GOV. RICARDO ROSELLO, PUERTO RICO: I'm not aware of such inspections. Of course there are areas of Puerto Rico which we haven't really gotten contact. Perhaps he was referring to a particular set of buildings. I'm not sure what the context of the message is.


WHITFIELD: All right, this comes on the heels of President Trump spewing nearly 20 tweets since yesterday on the dire situation in Puerto Rico for blasting the mayor of San Juan to bragging about the federal response. CNN's Sara Murray is in San Juan. So Sara, what are you hearing about the president's visit? What's scheduled?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, people are aware the president is coming and the White House hasn't given us a sense of exactly what President Trump will do while he's here. But the residents of Puerto Rico are very clear on the message they want President Trump to take away. And that's that there is a lot more work to be done here. There are millions of people here who still do not have power, they don't have water, they don't have cell phone service.

And so when you drive outside of San Juan to some of these neighborhoods and you look at homes that have just been decimated, homes that are missing roofs, and they know they need the government's help but they don't even know how to contact someone to let people know they are in crisis right now.

WHITFIELD: And Sara, this morning the White House budget director, you know, followed suit with the president's criticism of what the mayor has been saying. Elaborate.

MURRAY: That's right, obviously the mayor of San Juan had very sharp comments about the federal government's response because she's been here on the ground watching people grapple with the challenges of not having water or not having electricity. Listen to what Mick Mulvaney had to say about the back and forth between the president and the mayor.


MICK MULVANEY: It's unfortunate that the Puerto Rico mayor wants to -- excuse me, San Juan mayor wants to sort of go against the grain. We'd love to have her on the team as we all pull in the same direction. My understanding is that as of yesterday she had not even been to the FEMA operations center in her own city. So we need to get her involved.


MURRAY: Now again, more administration officials eventually criticizing the mayor saying she's going against the grain. But Fred, it's worth noting that San Juan is really the best case scenario right now. The is the scenario where power is starting to come back on, where there is some access to cell phone service, there are some restaurants, some bars that are opening. There are some grocery stores you can go to.

That's not true for many areas not far from here. So you can understand the mayor's frustration and the frustration of a number of other officials on the ground here.

WHITFIELD: Sara Murray, thank you so much.

Remote mountainous city in Puerto Rico has finally received much needed relief. People there welcoming federal help with open arms and tears. CNN's Brynn Gingras has the latest.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes Fred, I'm in San Juan right now, I do want to show you what we've seen though. Locals (INAUDIBLE) I think are the ones who punch in this neighborhood. Right here, this tree that came down during Irma, and then if we move over to this side, these trees came down during Maria.

So, this is a clear example of all the work that really needs to be done around this island.


MYRIAM ROSARIO CRUZ, STRANDED UTUADO RESIDENT: And the wind sounded like a monster.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Myriam Cruz rode out Hurricane Maria from inside this bedroom. The storm's eyewall traveled right through mountainous Utuado, a city about 90 minutes from San Juan. The river that runs through this area rose more than 20 feet.

(on camera) What was your thought looking out the window and seeing this river go up?

CRUZ: Terrible. I thought it was going to come, you know, up here, but it didn't. Thank God for that.

GINGRAS (voice-over): But the flooding caused landslides and knocked out this bridge. The only way for Cruz's community to get out.

[15:05:03] CRUZ: We were afraid that we will be left alone.

GINGRAS (voice-over): But they weren't.

(on camera) Right now, we're crossing a river with a pulley system constructed by a task force that's under the direction of FEMA. And really across the river, about 40 families who haven't seen relief up until today, up until this whole system was constructed.

(voice-over) This group of specialized officers, firemen and EMS come from New York, Indiana and Ohio. In the past week, their teams across Puerto Rico have saved more than 800 people. This task force took us to Cruz's neighborhood.

LT. MIKE MCGUINNESS, TASK FORCE 1, FEMA: While we were conducting our assessments that's how we received the information from the local emergency management officials that hey, in these particular areas, we haven't been able to get there yet. We have no communication with them. Can you help us? And that's really what we are here to do.

GRINGRAS (voice-over): Now, residents are rationing this new shipment of supplies and they're grateful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I saw them come the first time, I saw heaven.

CRUZ: So finally we knew that they knew about our situation.

GINGRAS (voice-over): But with a broken bridge, food and supplies will be needed again, and communications are still out. This man can't get in touch with his daughter bringing him to tears.

(on camera) What do you want to say to your daughter in Texas?

GILBERT SERRANO, STRANDED UTUADO RESIDENT: We're surviving? We appreciate your help. GINGRAS (voice-over): Even without the help, we found this community doing all they can to stay alive.

CURZ: OK, you see that line in there? That's where we got the water on this side.

GINGRAS (on camera): You did you that yourself?

CRUZ: No -- yes, the people here. Not me, but the men. You know, the men.

GINGRAS (on camera): So if you didn't have that?

CRUZ: We have no water.

GINGRAS (voice-over): That despite President Trump's raising criticism of Puerto Rico's leaders and local response.

CURZ: Of course we get frustrated because, you know, we have done what we can.

GINGRAS (voice-over): As for the task force, this assignment is over. And they're on to the next mission, continuing to help the people of Puerto Rico.


GINGRAS: And Fred, I have some news that really warms the heart of my crew. That man who was crying because he couldn't get in touch with his daughter, his granddaughter Victoria (ph) actually reached out to me on Twitter, really only a few minutes ago and in caps said, that's my grandfather. And she asked me if he was doing OK, did he evacuate that island. So we're able to give her some good news about her grandpa and that makes us feel really good specially the help of that task force. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's fantastic. Of course, that's going to make his day too, knowing that family is in connection even via reporters and crew. Thank you so much. Our Brynn Gingras, appreciate that from Puerto Rico.

All right, let's go to our panel now. CNN political commentators for more on the president's planned trip to Puerto Rico. Scot Jennings is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and Sally Kohn is a columnist for the Daily Beast. Good to see both of you.

All right Scott, you first. What do you want the president to see on this visit Tuesday?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I do want him to see the devastation because the clean up and the rebuilding here is what is going to matter for the rest of his first term. The same thing what's going to go on over in Texas because of the other hurricane there.

A huge part of his first term is going to be defined by how we rebuild these places that have been devastated by these amazingly powerful storms. So, he needs to see the devastation, he needs to hear from people what they need to get their island back up on its feet. And he also frankly I think needs to talk with local leaders about an island that had an outdated electrical grid, a road system that was outdated, a telecommunications grid that wasn't up to par, and building (INAUDIBLE).

Moving forward that they have to get all these things right and that of course are going to require a very serious engagement by the executive branch.

WHITFIELD: And Scott, this is different too because there's been a lot of tension that's been building up particularly within the last 24 to 48 hours between the president and the mayor of San Juan with the president directing a lot of criticism with the mayor, calling, you know, her an example of poor leadership. And then hearing the FEMA head offer this criticism, including when I talked with him yesterday, talking about she's not going to some of the meetings. Listen.


BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: The bottom line is that we had a joint field office established for numerous days in San Juan and what we need is for the mayor to make her way to the joint field office and get plugged in to what's going on to be successful.


WHITFIELD: So Scott, you know, is this, you know, the president's sort of backlash at the mayor because she has not been, you know, accessible or attending some of these meetings? Is this kind of pay back for that?

JENNINGS: Well, I think there is certainly frustration on behalf of federal officials who feel like they're doing everything they can do to help the people of San Juan and all over the island. And when you have someone come out and say nothing is being done and you feel like you're doing everything you can do, I can understand why frustration would mount.

[15:10:10] I think tensions and frustrations are bound to mount in any sort of humanitarian crisis situation. I really think the time for political recriminations though is for the future. For right now, everybody needs to focus on getting help to the island and getting these people back on their feet in terms of food, water, and electricity.

That's the most critical issue. We need to figure out, you know, what could be done better in the future. But right now, basic human needs is really in my opinion all anyone needs to care about.

WHITFIELD: Except I don't know if anybody heard her say that nothing was being done. It was in response to it being a good news story and then she, you know, tried to correct that there were people that were dying, people going without medicine, et cetera, Sally. But then, it has taken a terrible turn particularly with the president getting personal with those tweets but then now he's going to be in Puerto Rico.

So, how does that kind of set the stage of what the meetings might be?

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I have no idea what to expect from this president just when I think he can't sink any lower, he does. And here's a man who just used a military helicopter to go -- in taxpayers expense to just go from one golf club to another golf club. And he is criticizing the mayor of San Juan who is literally sleeping on a cot out there every day wading through waist high water trying to save lives.

Listen, you're right. I mean, Scott is exactly right. This is not a moment for sort of political blame, but let's be clear about where the blame is been coming from. The immaturity of this White House in response to this crisis, and the decision to lob personal attacks instead of just sending help.

Look, President Trump, this is simple. I get it. You don't like the people criticizing your response. Nobody is out to get you. Notice that the response to the hurricane mobilizations in Houston were overwhelmingly positive because the federal government did a good job there and you deserve praise for that.

It isn't working here, and you don't have to listen to Mayor Cruz. The general that President Trump sent to Puerto Rico to shepherd disaster recovery also said he doesn't have what he needs. This is the time to grow up. This is the time where you got to stop tweeting and start doing the right thing and saving lives.

And I'm telling you, all the criticism or whatever it is that gets under this president's skin, do the right thing here. Strengthen the response. These people are dying. These are Americans dying on your watch. Do the right thing.

And I swear, I'll be the first person to come on air and say thank you for a job well done. It's not that hard to just do more, do more now.

WHITFIELD: So we -- first it was the tweets, you know, something like 18 tweets just about that particularly between, you know, the president's, you know, sentiments about the mayor just yesterday, you know, overall 20 tweets about Puerto Rico. And then this morning the Treasury secretary weighing in on the president's, you know, words about the San Juan mayor. Listen.


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I think as you know when the president gets attacked, he attacks back. And I think the mayor's comments were unfair given what the federal government has done. I completely understand people's frustration and this is a very, very difficult situation. I haven't been there, but I've been almost on daily calls monitoring what's going on with the rest of the cabinet. I think FEMA has done a terrific job.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: So Scott, I mean, you just said you want the administration to focus on now meeting the needs but then you got the Treasury secretary who, you know, underscores that sentiment this morning. I mean, how is this helpful?

JENNINGS: Well, I think that the administration is very sensitive to the concept that public opinion hardens quickly in this country and it hardens more quickly with each passing administration. Public opinion hardened very quickly after Katrina against George W. Bush. And so I think the Trump administration officials are worried that public opinion here is going to set and they don't think it's setting fairly. They think they are doing things.

I don't think they believe they're getting credit for instance for some of the naval assets that were sent to the area before the hurricane. There were several amphibious carriers for instance sent to the area to prepare. I don't believe they feel like they're getting the credit for doing what they should have done in advance.

And I think they feel and fear that public opinion is going to harden on this and that no matter what they do to get it right, and no one is going to have judged them to get it right because these hurricanes, these emergencies are such enormous drivers of public opinion because they're on the news all the time. I think they're frankly an overdrive trying to reset public narrative here to make sure that people believe they're doing the right things.

WHITFIELD: OK, let's just hold it for now. We're going to talk some more, Sally and Scott, we're going to take a short break for now.

But this was another message coming from the president, don't waste your time. The message from the president of the United States to his secretary of state when it comes to diplomacy in North Korea.

[15:15:07] So if Trump is turning his back on diplomacy, what does that signal to Kim Jong-un? That's next.


WHITFIELD: All right, President Trump taking another shot at North Korea but this time, his own secretary of state is in the crossfire as the president tweeting this morning, "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocket man. Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done." Trump's tweet coming on the heels of Tillerson's comments yesterday after he me with China's president and said the Trump administration can and does talk directly through back channels to Pyongyang.

The messages from Trump and Tillerson seem to directly contradict one another. But a senior administration official says nothing has changed, telling our Jim Sciutto, the White House remains committed to a diplomatic approach.

[15:20:03] Joining me right now to discuss, CNN's Ryan Nobles in Branchburg, New Jersey not far from Trump's private golf club. Also with me, CNN Pentagon Reporter Ryan Browne in Washington.

All right, Ryan Nobles, you first. The president tweeting just moments ago again about North Korea. How does all of this undercut and there's a tweet. "Being nice to him hasn't worked for in 25 years, why would it work now. Clinton failed, Bush failed and Obama failed. I won't fail."

So, how does the president see winning on this?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's a great question, Fred. It appears there aren't too many in the diplomatic community that can actually answer that question at least with much specificity. But it seems pretty clear that the president is trying to make a point here.

He had this early round of tweets this is morning where he specifically contradicted what his own secretary of state said, while in Beijing talking to one of the most important leaders of a country involved in this situation in North Korea saying that they are attempting to have some sort of diplomatic channel to Pyongyang. And the president saying no it's not worth your time, telling Rex Tillerson to basically stop.

And then of course, our Jim Sciutto reporting that the administration's official position is that things haven't change, that their diplomatic option is still their best course of action. And now the president who by the way is on his way to a golf tournament here in New Jersey after he gets off the helicopter and into the limousine to take over the golf course takes time to tweet, yet again that he believes that it's not worth it to be nice to Kim Jong-un.

So, it's really hard to get a read on what exactly this means. He obviously said before that he is willing to use fire and fury if that means taking down Kim Jong-un. He seems to be not leaving too many options open for his administration despite the fact that his most important and closest advisers continue to say that diplomacy is the best course of action in this case. Fred?

WHITFIELD: And Ryan Browne, among them, Defense Secretary Mattis who has also said that diplomacy is the goal here. So, the president is undermining some very key members of his administration.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, it's interesting and I think Secretary Mattis has talked about diplomacy, you know, partnered with military options. The military says on the Korean Peninsula, they're ready to fight tonight. So there's definitely a military angle to this.

But, the way Secretary Mattis has always talked about is the diplomacy is not necessarily a bilateral effort with North Korea, with Pyongyang. But he basically see diplomacy as working with the U.N., working with China. So again, if it's the same as what Jim Sciutto heard from the senior administration official, some elements of the administration seemed the diplomacy is to going to the U.N., going into Beijing, not necessarily this direct one to one communications with Pyongyang which the State Department saying yesterday has shown no interest in serious talks.

So again, it's going to be this kind of diplomatic effort going around to some of the other key players in the region in attempt to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile activity.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Browne and Ryan Nobles, thanks to both of you, appreciate it

Let's take more about this at this, you know, Twitter sentiment being expressed by the president and undercutting perhaps his secretary of state and defense secretary. CNN political commentators Scott Jennings is back with me and Sally Kohn.

All right. So Scott, you first. So, the president is now on his way to the Presidents Cup there in Jersey City as one of our Ryans just described there. He gets off the Marine One and he's making his way to the limo which will take him to the golf course there for the Presidents Cup. And already, he sent out yet another message, this time saying be nice to rocket man, hasn't worked in 25 years why would it work now. Clinton failed, Bush failed and Obama failed. I won't fail.

So in your view Scott, how will this president define winning on this?

JENNINGS: Well, we have to define winning by not allowing the North Koreans to have a nuclear weapon that can threaten the Peninsula, threaten their region or threaten the mainland United States. I mean, that's really the most important issue here.

Who is in charge of that country is less important than making sure they cannot threaten American citizens and our allies with nuclear weapons. And so, whatever we have to do to achieve that objective, that's what we have to do and he's not wrong --


[15:25:03] JENNINGS: Well, I think the North Koreans and the Chinese and the Russians and everybody else has to believe that we're serious about a military option. And if they don't believe that we're serious about using American military power to destroy their capabilities to deliver nuclear weapons, then, you know, it takes a lot of leverage out of the game on the diplomatic side.

So, we have to keep up, in my opinion the idea that we do have a serious military option. Otherwise, talking at the U.N., talking directly to them and talking in multilateral talks, no one will take those talks as seriously if they believe that the United States won't come in and ultimately deal a decisive military blow to a nuclear site if that what has to be done.

WHITFIELD: So Sally, what does this underscore to you when on one day, Saturday that the secretary of state says, you know, we have some in roads, back channels that we're using, (INAUDIBLE) back channels that we will use, you know, upholding diplomacy. He is the nation's top diplomat. And then the next day, you have the president saying out loud about his secretary of state, don't even worry about diplomacy, it's a waste of time.

KOHN: OK, first of all, I actually never thought I would feel badly for a former big oil executive, but here I am feeling badly for Rex Tillerson. Second of all, just to put a fine point on this, the way diplomacy works if you talk to the experts is, yes, you have to have some options on the table but the point is, there have to be options on the table that if North Korea believes it is hopeless and that Donald Trump only has one vision in end, then diplomacy is bound to fail.

You know -- again, I can't -- we're actually having this conversation while the president is using taxpayer resources to go from one golf club to another golf club on what I believe is his 68th golf trip of his presidency while people are dying in Puerto Rico, and he's trying to take healthcare away from 30 million Americans, and we may be approaching a nuclear stalemate.

And I just can't help thinking this isn't -- this can't be what people voted for. They can't have voted for a guy who is so disorganized, such a mess that he is actually making the problems of the world worse. And not listening to the advice of his own generals, the people he surrounded himself with, saying don't call him rocket man, don't bait him this way, and don't do this, don't do that. And the guy just keeps tweeting and making everything worse and undercutting the credible knowledgeable experts on his whole team. Come on.

WHITFIELD: So Scott, it is hard for people to not interpret this as an example of some sort of disarray within messaging within the administration. They're saying different things and it should be right from the White House or the expectation is from the white house that there would be some uniformity in messaging, particularly as it pertains to global matters.

JENNINGS: Yes, the short-term implications of him undercutting Tillerson this way, we won't know obviously until it plays out. But I'm worried really about the long-term implications if the secretary of state is traveling to talk to other countries around the world, they may not know what to believe if they hear Rex Tillerson says something, they may be sitting around saying well, that might be true today, but is going to be true five minutes from now.

So, I think the long-term implications of undercutting your diplomatic core are problematic. And I think they need to think about that before they go out and undercut each other via social media. On the specific issue with North Korea however --

WHITFIELD: What do you think it does to a secretary of state?

JENNINGS: -- it's easy to understand why the president is frustrated because obviously the North Koreans have been slow to respond to diplomatic pressure so far.

WHITFIELD: But does it make it sound like if you're the secretary of state that the president is frustrated with the approach that Rex Tillerson is taking. How does that make the secretary of state feel about how he's doing his job? JENNINGS: Well, we don't know how it makes him feel because we don't know if this was part of a plan. You know, did they plan to have a talk and then plan to have the president tweet? Or was just tweet out of nowhere.

So, it's hard to know how he feels because we don't know what went into the thinking behind it. But I imagine it doesn't feel very good to be undercut not on just this issue but on I mean, there been several internation issues where the president has undercut the State Department. So, I think Rex Tillerson is an honorable man and he's doing the best job that he can but I'm not certain that social media engagements make his job all that easy --

WHITFIELD: So then Sally perhaps that is part of a strategy.

KOHN: Sorry. I think we can all finally recognize that Donald Trump is not some strategic genius playing three-dimensional chess on the global stage. He is just impatient, immature, inexperienced and takes that out on Twitter and constantly catches his own team by surprise and undercuts them.

[15:30:01] This is not -- if we're waiting for this president to get better, it's not happening. If we're waiting for him to get more strategic, more measured, more presidential, it's not happening. He just somehow keeps everything to get getting worse. And now the stakes are really high. Right now, we're talking about lives at stake.

WHITFIELD: You just heard, it is all serious business. All right. Sally Kohn, Scott Jennings, thanks so much for both of you.

All right. Up next, as the president gears up for a visit to Puerto Rico this week, the region is still dealing with extreme devastation. We go inside one family's struggle right after this.


[15:35:11] WHITFIELD: Puerto Rico is in desperate need of food, water, and other basic necessities and families are coming together to help their loved ones who are struggling to get by on that devastated island. CNN's Polo Sandoval has the story.



POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Janie Barbosa's usual morning routine includes household chores and taking her son, Christopher (ph) to school.

BARBOSA: You're going to take him to school?

SANDOVAL (voice-over): On this day though, this New Jersey woman and her family are embarking on their own humanitarian mission, giving help to loved ones in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. BARBOSA: Today, what I'm going to do, I'm going to drop him off and then I'm going to try to go to Walgreens to buy a few things for my mom.

That is my mom.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Mom is over 1,600 miles away, stranded in San Juan. Since Hurricane Maria battered the island, Barbosa has had to rely on word from relatives to confirm her 76-year-old mother is OK.

BARBOSA: The first week was horrible for me because I didn't know anything about none of my family members until my best friend called me finally, and she went to the house and saw here, that she was OK.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Barbosa's husband doesn't have that peace of mind. He still doesn't know the fate of some of his family in the city of Cayey.

FERNANDO FEBU, HASN'T HEARD FROM HIS SISTER IN PUERTO RICO: I heard from my daughter, one of my daughter that lives there, and -- but I don't know anything about my sister or other relatives. So it's been hard.

BARBOSA: So I have to carry those on.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Tired of waiting, the couple is heading to Puerto Rico and they're not packing light. Lanterns, medicines for mom, provisions that are badly needed, all packed in this pile of boxes. The next morning.

BARBOSA: Do you think that one is going to be enough?

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The family's stock of splice are successfully checked in at JFK, bringing them one step closer to take off. Four hours later, Barbosa, her family and the supplies land safely in San Juan.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): First, a reunion with her mother.

[Foreign Language]

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Then it was off to search for her husband's sister, Vivian (ph). It's over been over two weeks since they heard from her.

(Foreign Language)

SANDOVAL (voice-over): In her home, a much anticipated reunion.

(Foreign Language)

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Moments like these provide relief the weeks of uncertainty as over 90 percent of the island is still without power. Telecommunications are largely off line, and over half of the country's grocery stores remain closed.

This family, representing the reality for millions of American citizens in Puerto Rico. Some are reunited, all are on the long road to recovery.

BARBOSA: I'm trying not to cry, but it's hard. It's hard, it's very hard. You have to be here to believe it and see it with your own eyes.


SANDOVAL: And among some of those tears, there is help that solely making its way to the island. The latest information now coming from FEMA suggesting that they have already handed out food and water to all 78 municipalities on the island.

However, FEMA also stressing that there are many of those isolated pockets, Fred within those municipalities and that is where they are heavily relying on some of the local authorities. Some of the mayors for example to know where those pockets are so they reach some of these isolated areas that are still without food and water today. And of course adds and mixed this communication issue. Many of those areas are still out of touch and without communications that of course is complicating the situation.

But here, Fred, just one story of one family that simply had to take matters into their own hands.

WHITFIELD: Wow, and that one family, two households well, you know, they are still in great need of a lot. They're the lucky ones because their homes are intact there but still the need is great.

All right, Polo Sandoval thank you so much.

All right, it is a scene of chaos today in Catalonia where the region has turned out to vote for its independence from Spain. We'll take you there liver where more than 750 people have been injured in clashes like this.


[15:43:38] WHITFIELD: A boiling crackdown on a controversial vote. Police in riot gears smashing their way into polling stations, some firing rubber bullets, others is beating voters with baton. That was the chaotic scene in Catalonia, Spain earlier today that left hundreds injured. People there trying to decide whether the region should break away from Spain and become its own independent nation.

CNN's Isa Soares has witnessed the violence there firsthand. So Isa, the polls close just last how but the Spanish prime minister says the referendum didn't happen. What does that mean?

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- very much so which is something that he's been saying all along (INAUDIBLE) his ground. So in the last 45 minutes or so and he basically said (INAUDIBLE), basically he's saying there was no referendum (INAUDIBLE). The government of Catalonia, the region of Spain has done a mockery of democracy and (INAUDIBLE) shows those villagers, Fredricka, he basically said the state, and I'm quoting him here, access with illegal means against every provocation.

Interesting though, Fredricka, he did not call for any dialogue and he also didn't mention the more than 760 people who are injured throughout today here in Catalonia. The Catalan Government and the Catalan people, those who turned out to vote were applauding as the polls close at 8:00 Local because it is something they've been waiting for, for such a long time.

[15:45:08] Having said that, the last poll conducted here in July said that 49% didn't want independence. So it will be interesting to see whether the action by the state police has shifted among moderates to be separatists. We expect results in about an hour and a half or so. At least the first results, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Isa Soares, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much.

All right. Still ahead, President Trump issuing a major blow to potential diplomacy with North Korea today. And, publicly breaking with his secretary of state. What this means for the nuclear threat posed by the rogue nation. Stay with us.


[15:50:10] WHITFIELD: All right. "This Is Life With Lisa Ling" returns tonight on CNN for Season Four. Tonight's episode explores people's journey towards sexual healing. Here's a preview.


LISA LING, CNN HOST, "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING" (voice-over): Why do so many of us have so much shame surrounding sex and our bodies even though both are perfectly normal and natural? Touch and desire to feel connected with others is part of what makes us human.

INDIGO (ph): At some point would you like to spoon a bit?

KEITH (ph): I would. Thanks very much.

INDIGO: Let's get really super, super comfortable.

LING (voice-over): For Keith, it's been a long, slow journey. But in his work with Indigo, he's made great strides.

INDIGO: Deep breath.

LING (voice-over): At 60 years old, it's taken his entire adult life but Keith has finally experienced the joy of touch.

KEITH: All my life, it has felt dirty. I was afraid of admitting that I was a sexual and sensual being. Now it feels just like a really beautiful loving thing that's necessary. And we all need that kind of connection.


WHITFIELD: Lisa Ling joining us now. Congrats on Season Four. So what was it about, you know, this discovery or finding out that this is a journey that many people have to take?

LING: Yes, Fred. Well, this episode is about sexual healing and in it we profile two women who are in the business of sexual healing. And one of them said to me, if you have any blockage to your sexual energy, if you have any deficiencies in your sex life like you have endured sexual abuse like the man in the clip that you just saw. If you are not physical with your partner or if you have body image issues which I think applies to most of us, it affects every aspect of your life.

So, while it may sound like a bit of a scintillating topic that we're taking on tonight, it's actually incredibly relevant to all of us.

WHITFIELD: And how difficult was it for people to open up? I mean, it's one thing to open up, you know, with the professional there. But it's another with the cameras there, with you there, and really asking about their deepest thoughts.

LING: Yes. I mean, certainly it was a little challenging, but part of this episode, the goal for me is to try and normalize the conversation about sex. I mean, it is the most natural thing, it's part of human biology. And there's so much stigma and shame surrounding it. And that's one of the reasons why I wanted to do this.

I mean, I grew up being really ashamed of sex and I was told as a kid just never do it. And I think that goes for a lot of people in this country. You know, on the one hand we promote it, we publicize it. But at the same time, we police it, we politicize it and we shame it.

And so, what we're trying to do here is to say to people it's OK, it's natural. And, the sooner you can start healing those blockages the better the rest of your life can be.

WHITFIELD: All right, powerful stuff. Lisa Ling, thank you so much. Of course, everyone can watch the return of "This Is Life With Lisa Ling" tonight at 10:00 Eastern Time right here on CNN.


[15:58:08] WHITFIELD: Absurdities of devastation became the focal point of last night's fall premiere of Saturday Night Live, and there was no shortage of jabs, jokes, and jeers aimed at the president and the current crisis in Puerto Rico.


ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: You should have paid your bills. FEMA takes a few days unless you join FEMA prime.


BALDWIN: I don't know if you know this but you're in an island in the water. The ocean water, big ocean with fishes and bubbles and turtles that bite. We want to help you but we have to take care of America first.

VILLASENOR: Wait, you do know we're a U.S. territory, don't you?

BALDWIN: I mean, I do, but not many people know that.


WHITFIELD: All right, we've got so much more straight ahead. The next hour of the NEWSROOM, it all starts right now.

All right, hello again everyone and thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Diplomatic channels with North Korea are open for now but they won't be forever. The U.S. State Department tweeting out that message after President Trump took to Twitter insisting he will not fail in North Korea as his predecessors Bush, Clinton and Obama did. Even undercutting his own secretary of state with this tweet saying, "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man. Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done."

CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Branchburg, New Jersey, not far from Trump's private golf club there. You know, the president now is in Jersey City at the Presidents Cup. Well, Ryan what more can we glean from what's been transpiring here?

NOBLES: Well, it seems pretty clear, Fred that the president wants to send a message about how he wants to interact with Kim Jong-un and North Korea. In fact, he sent out another tweet right before he made to that golf tournament where he said, quote, being nice to Rocket Man hasn't worked in 25 years, why would it work now. Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed.