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Puerto Rico Struggles to Recover 4 Weeks After Maria; Trump Politicizing Deaths?; Celtics Star Suffers Gruesome Injury on Opening Night. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 18, 2017 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:01] ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not their fight, you know? They need to stabilize the political market and the insurance markets. Certainly when it comes to tax reform they want to get some kind of decision, some process to reach a decision.

Simply forcing, doing it on Twitter, antagonizing people who will have effective veto power, if they have a 50-vote threshold they need, it doesn't look good. I wouldn't bet on them coming to any kind of resolution on something that they really, really need going into the 2018 elections.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Errol Louis, David Gregory, thank you very much for all the analysis.

Coming up in our 8:00, we will speak with Republican Senator Susan Collins about these two legislative battles ahead.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And please join CNN tonight for a debate between two Senate heavyweights. Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz will take on the Republican tax plan, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Who makes the better case?

CAMEROTA: All right. Four weeks ago today, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. A majority of the island is still without power today. Millions of people are still desperate for food and water. So, we have a live report for you next.


[06:35:26] CUOMO: Can you believe it's been a month since hurricane Maria? And yet the situation on the island is still very much the same as it was in the immediate aftermath. Millions of Americans in Puerto Rico are still without basic essentials.

Agua y luz, as they say on the island right now, almost as a new greeting. They don't have water. They don't have power.

CNN's Ed Lavandera live in San Juan with the latest.

What are you seeing there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Well, we made it high into the mountains of central Puerto Rico where some of the need is the greatest. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA (voice-over): As local legend has it, this town of Villalba was the first city in Puerto Rico to get electrical light more than 100 years ago. But now, people wonder if this might be one of the last places to get the lights turned back on.

To understand what they're struggling with, Mayor Luis Javier Hernandez tells us to jump into his police Humvee for a ride.

We drive deep through the mountain valley.

(on camera): He said things are improving slowly. It's like the hurricane just struck here yesterday.

Villalba is a city sits high in the mountains of central Puerto Rico. It's home to about 27,000 people. The nightmare and the logistical nightmare that hurricane Maria left behind is everywhere. It took three weeks just to clear some of the major roads.

(voice-over): There is no electricity anywhere in the city. The mayor says it has taken weeks for state and federal officials to understand how desperate the situation is here.

He's asked federal authorities for industrial generators. They haven't come. He struggled to get helicopters to evacuate three people who needed kidney dialysis and oxygen. They, along with one other person, died.

(on camera): He says that evacuation helicopters didn't arrive in time to get the people out of here to save their lives and they ended up dying.

(voice-over): Local crews deliver meals and water to 1,500 families, but that's still not enough. He is not convinced all the relief supplies are reaching the residents here.

(on camera): The mayor says he's worried and he's heard that there is food and water that has been sent for this town of Villalba. And he believes that's just sitting in San Juan and not get its way here.

(voice-over): The mayor says major help has only started to arrive in the last two days. FEMA officials are processing disaster claims and he is getting some logistic cal help from the military.

(on camera): Is it too slow?

Yes, he said it's too slow because the line between life and death is very small, very thin here.


LAVANDERA: You know, it's a patchwork effort there in that city to try to keep things together. The mayor says that they have a hydraulic system that could power part of the city's electrical grid. But a water pipe was ruptured in the storm. They haven't been able to replace that.

There is one last ditch effort to get them electricity here in the next two weeks. The mayor said the realistic effort here is that probably the lights will be dark in that town for at least six months, far beyond the goal that the governor here in Puerto Rico has of getting this island 95 percent powered by mid-December -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Ed, I mean, your reporting just reminds us of something so important, and that is that people are dying while waiting for help. Thank you so much for being there on the ground for us.

Now to another natural disaster. Thousands of people are getting first looks of the charred remains of their homes after the wildfires in California. Will firefighters get any help from the weather today?

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam has our forecast.

What do you see, Derek?


Well, residents across Central and northern California will have to be patient, at least for 24 more hours, because that's when the rain sits in.

By the way, this weather is brought to you by Tempur Pedic. Tempur Pedic, sleep is power.

We want to time this thing out for you. You can see how this cold front still lags behind for the day today. That being Wednesday. But as we head into the overnight hours and into the day on Thursday, that's when real change starts to move in across the area, helping the firefighters and the residents there, bringing rain, cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity as well.

Not much rain, maybe just a few tenths of an inch, but hey, we will take what we can get. By the way, temperatures on the East Coast looking very pleasant -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much. Appreciate the weather report.

President Trump often acting as a champion of the military, as he should.

[06:40:01] But the new question is whether or not he is politicizing the deaths of four American soldiers for his own gain, or at least in his own defense. We're going to ask a former Air Force general, next.


CUOMO: A Democratic lawmaker riding in the car with a fallen soldier's widow, one of those who died in this ambush in Niger. They were going to meet her husband's casket. The lawmaker says that the president was on the phone with the widow and he said he knew what he signed up for, talking about her husband and that it made the widow begin to cry.

Let's discuss with CNN national security analyst and former director of both the CIA and the NSA, retired Air Force General Michael Hayden.

General, it's always good to have you on the show.


CUOMO: And let's be very clear here, context matters.

[06:45:01] I didn't hear this conversation. You didn't hear it. We don't know. We know the president often talks in glowing terms about the military.

But at the same time, there seems to be a fundamental question whether or not he knows how to do this job and this moments that require moral agency, and in this case, empathy. What is your take?

HAYDEN: Well, it's a very difficult job, Chris. For those who want to criticize the president who haven't yet had to do that, I would say, be a little bit kind.

Now, I have had to do that. There are very few good things you can say to a grieving family. And I'm afraid what the president said is not in the list of good things to say. It betrays I think some inexperience. It may be actually betray a little bit of the personality of the man in terms of a difficulty of expressing empathy, which we have seen in other circumstances as well.

CUOMO: What do you make of his decision to defend what he did here by saying other presidents didn't always do the right thing essentially? Which is largely untrue, right?

HAYDEN: Yes. Actually, I'm more offended by that than I was the president having difficulty finding the right words in a very difficult circumstance.

Here for his own political defense, he tried to throw his predecessors under the bus. And frankly, his two predecessors, Presidents Obama and President Bush, as far as the Armed Forces are concerned with regard to preserving the dignity of the office in its relationship to the Armed Forces particularly in its relationship to the fallen, I think both presidents get very, very good marks.

So, in this case, President Trump just didn't know what he was talking about.

BRIGGS: And what about bringing in John Kelly's slain son? I mean, we don't know whether or not the general offered that up or said this is what you should tell people. He wasn't with the president yesterday and won't comment on it.

HAYDEN: I never met Robert, the general's son. I do know John. We used on to go to church together. I was with him the week his son died. This is something he wanted to keep personal and private within the

family. They wanted to grieve privately. And John has been very careful about that.

So, again, what does it reflect? A lack of empathy, a lack of experience on the part of the president. But that should never have happened.

CUOMO: So, the deeper concern here, General, is why does this matter? Supporters of Trump will say this is all blown out of proportion and, you know, he's -- this is just fake news or whatever they want to call it.

Other people say it is just style. It doesn't matter. Who cares what he says in front of the CIA wall? He wants to talk about crowd size. Whatever. He got elected because people like who he is.

What's your concern?

HAYDEN: Well, you mentioned the visit is to the CIA the day after the inauguration, which has to rank probably as the worst presidential visit anywhere in terms of doing what it was the president wanted to do.

CUOMO: Well, hold on a second, General. If you want to qualify it that way, let's play it, because let's remind what he actually said so they get a sense of why you're describing it that way. Go ahead.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field. I said, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, the field was -- it looked like a million, million and a half people.


CUOMO: Look, it's a good dramatic read. You have to give him that. But what bothered you about that in terms of the timing and the place?

HAYDEN: Well, he was standing in the concourse of our original headquarters building against the wall of the fallen, the stars that you saw behind the president.


HAYDEN: He actually began his talk by looking over his shoulder and beginning to speak about the fallen at CIA. And he almost interrupted himself to go on to talk about crowd size and how many times he's been on "TIME" magazine. And actually, Chris, the purpose of the visit was to reset his relationship with the intelligence community, which was in a very bad place after several tweets that had taken place in the week before.

Now, you fast forward to these circumstances, the president seems to tweet about everything. And --

CUOMO: Not the Niger ambush.

HAYDEN: Well, he's very comfortable wrapping himself in the flag and in the armed forces. So a very legitimate question after 12 days is how come you didn't tweet about these fallen young men? That is the question.

That is far more the question than the president perhaps trying and failing to be empathetic with the family of this particular soldier.

CUOMO: Right. One of them goes to the permanent. The other on goes to his sense of the professional and the duty of the job, his ability to empathize -- that's going to be a limitation of his person, his ability to step up and do the job the right way.

[06:50:02] Now, the White House says, well, he didn't go out with the names and talk about it until we had everything fully confirmed.

We knew what happened in Niger. We knew about the ambush. He was talking about plenty of things on Twitter. He could have talked about this and cleared protocol, don't you think?

HAYDEN: Look, it would have required, not a casual mention of course, just a mention that we have suffered losses in Niger. We grieve with the families of the fallen heroes. We intend to learn more about it as we go forward and to prevent these kind of incidents in the future. I mean, I can do that in 140.

CUOMO: Well, I think you just did. I think you just did, General. And, you know, it bears notice, this is the largest loss of military life on his watch. Thank God it was only four and not the whole contingent that walked into that ambush.

But one is too many. This is the largest on his watch. He was expected to say something. He didn't.

General Hayden, thank you very much for your perspective on this.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK. Now to sports. It was a painful start to the NBA season for the Boston Celtics. We have the latest for you on Gordon Hayward's gruesome injury. "Bleacher Report", next.


CAMEROTA: Big night for hoops fans and NBA opening night.

But oh, man, what a horrible injury we saw to Boston's newest star.

Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report".

I mean, you know, it doesn't get higher, the great athlete than you were. You were a pro bowl player. Even the amateur athlete, when you see what happened to that guy, you want to watch but you don't want to watch. You just hope somehow he comes back.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris, and we'll get that warning now, if you're easily made queasy by injury, don't watch this.

This "Bleacher Report" presented by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

Just five minutes into his first, the Celtics may have lost their all star forward Gordon Hayward for the season. He suffered a horrific and broken leg, dislocated ankle as well. Several players calling this one of the worst injuries is they have seen including his new teammate Kyrie Irving.

But in act of sportsmanship, watch LeBron James walking over, consoling and encouraging Hayward as he is there on the stretcher, along with Dwyane Wade and Kevin Love, his teammate.

[06:55:01] Hayward is expected to have surgery today. We will keep our eye to see word out of will he return at some point this season?

Six-foot-seven, 280-pound rookie Aaron Judge has a mind of a champion in Yankee Stadium last night with the eyes of Yankees fans around the world locked on him. His team down 4-0 to Houston in the seventh, and he sparks an epic comeback with one of the signature home runs. Certainly an all rise moment.

We have another one, too. He lifts his teammates again in the eighth with this double that tied the game at four apiece. The Bronx Bombers would go on to score four runs in the eight, resulting in an eventual 6-4 win. The series is now tied. Game 5 is this afternoon at 5:00 Eastern.

Now, in the NLCS, the Dodgers are now just one win away from eliminating the defending champions and reaching their first World Series in 29 years. L.A. can wrap up it up with a win tonight on our sister channel TBS, Alisyn. That's at 9:00 Eastern.

CAMEROTA: So, Coy, I averted my eyes during that, but just Chris' reaction made me feel me queasy.

WIRE: I have not watched it yet. I can't do it.

CUOMO: I've never seen anything like that before. Luckily, luckily, the angle that most people are showing, you don't see what Coy doesn't want to see, and I can understand why you don't want to see it. But we just hope that he comes back.

The good news is sometimes the most horrific injuries, they wind up still healing. So, that's a faint hope right now. But he's a great player, and they need him.

CAMEROTA: OK, meanwhile, there are new questions about President Trump's empathy and his response to military families after a lawmakers hears his call to a widow of a fallen officer. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson is going to share what she heard coming up on NEW DAY.