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Puerto Rico's Governor on Capitol Hill; Puerto Rico One Month Later; University of Florida Braces for Speech; Russia Used Americans to Stoke Tensions. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 19, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:31:21] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You are looking at live pictures of theGovernor of Puerto Rico on Capitol Hill with Senator Marco Rubio talking about hurricane relief efforts. I think we're going to listen in for a moment.


QUESTION: Governor -- governor, (INAUDIBLE) meeting with the president in a couple of hours. Can you just tell us, what is your message to the president and the resources that you need and what kind of praise would you give the administration considering the president is saying his administration has been doing A plus work all along?

GOV. RICHARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO: Well, you know, there's -- there have been a lot of (INAUDIBLE) and we've recognized that, but there's still a lot of work to go ahead. There is things that we need to surface from the emergency. We'll be talk about those issues, what our pressing needs are at the current moment, but also looking forward to recovering and the rebuilding effort in Puerto Rico.

I think this is critical. You know, in these emergencies, things can -- might have the appearance that they are stabilizing at one point, but you always have future problems that can arise, such as public health emergencies and otherwise. We really want to take all the big picture into consideration and again recognizing that we're in this together, U.S. citizens in Texas, U.S. citizens in Florida, U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We need equal treatment. We need all of the resources so that we can get out of the emergency and, of course, the resources to rebuild stronger than ever.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: And distribution -- how is the distribution getting to the people?


QUESTION: The distribution. How is the distribution of supplies getting to folks who need it?

ROSSELLO: Well, right now it's working. It's augmenting significantly. We're working with the municipalities. I've posted the National Guard is Puerto Rico to help with the logistics. I sent out our auditors from the Treasury Department so that they can actually have accountability over what's going on.

And, of course, there's been some investigations ongoing into the proper management of some of those resources. But your efforts still, at this moment, are life-sustainment efforts, hospitals, water, food, medicine, distribution and so forth. But also keeping clear that if we don't also focus on the mid and long term, we could have a bigger problem down the road.

QUESTION: Thank you.




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, this is Governor Ricardo Rossello right now, the governor of Puerto Rico, meeting with Marco Rubio, says we need equal treatment with the recovery efforts there. He'll take that message to the White House next. He meets with the president shortly.

Of course, 79 percent of Puerto Rico is still without power. A third of the residents there don't have running water.

CNN's Bill Weir traveled outside of San Juan, found a group of war veterans that have started taking matters into their own hands.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As dawn brings Maria's one- month anniversary, we head out of San Juan by air and low to the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrain. Terrain. Pull up. Pull up.

WEIR: All the better to see the mudslides, broken bridges, shattered homes. We pass Arecibo, one of the biggest radio telescopes in the world. But we are looking for intelligent signs of life in the western mountains where people have been waiting for help for weeks.

We land. And inside the Miacos (ph) Airport, a group of big-hearted military veterans has turned baggage claim into a bunkhouse and operations center.

ERIC CARLSON, WARFIGHTER DISASTER RESPONSE TEAM: I think we're at like 30,000 meals, 35,000 meals and -


CARLSON: I don't know how many crates of water. And that's just with the small trucks we've had and by hock or by crook getting supplies.

WEIR: They came down on their own dime and shake their heads in frustration with FEMA. If it were up to them, they'd bring in the National Guard, 15,000 at a time on two-week rotations. CARLSON: I thought, you have to pay these guys anyway to sit at Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin maybe for two weeks and --

[09:35:00] WEIR (on camera): Right. Right.

CARLSON: And you're wasting your money.

WEIR: Yes.

CARLSON: All this stuff about bringing in contractors and security contractors to ride shotgun on the trucks, I'll get you 5,000 military vets that will do it -- we're all down here for free.

WEIR (voice-over): We head into the hills in search of answers, but soon get a taste of the logistical headaches here. Maria obliterated this stretch of highway. And with little hope of road crews, the neighbors are building their own bridge.

WEIR (on camera): Do you feel like Americans in moments like this? Do you feel taken care of as citizens?


WEIR (voice-over): We're not people that say the government must help us, Santiago says, we're all part of humanity. Every person does the best they can.

WEIR (on camera): What kind of help are you getting from the outside? Have you seen FEMA or --

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, LAS MARIAS (ph) RESIDENT: Well, we see FEMA. We see the -- we see the group that came from Connecticut and they purified our water.

WEIR: And these are -- are these the veterans, the guys, former soldiers?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, that's right. That's right. Yes, that's right.

WEIR: We met them at the airport.

RODRIGUEZ: Oh, yes. Yes, they were -- they were beautiful people.

WEIR: Yes.

WEIR (voice-over): Thanks to Junie (ph) and his mini monster truck, we get past yet another mudslide and soon track down one of FEMA's top men on this island.

WEIR (on camera): Couldn't you use national guardsmen in two week rotations to come in? Are you begging your bosses for more men?


WEIR: Why? HERNANDEZ: Because we have 4,500 national guardsmen coming in.

WEIR: But just as a point of comparison, two weeks after the Haiti quake, the U.S. had 22,000 troops on the ground in a foreign country.

HERNANDEZ: I don't know how much more we can bring without actually impacting the economy of the Puerto Rico. If I keep on flooding the place with food and water, when is it that the local neighbors are going to open the supermarkets?

WEIR: Isn't it true that FEMA had a presence in New Orleans for like seven years, right? People were living in FEMA trailers for years.

HERNANDEZ: We were in New Orleans just two years ago and we left 5,000 mobile homes there.

WEIR: Right.

HERNANDEZ: And we were there for seven, eight months responding there. And we were in Florida. And we were in Harvey. And we're going to be in Puerto Rico and now we're in the Virgin Islands also for as long as it takes.

WEIR: For as long as it takes?

HERNANDEZ: For as long as it takes and --

WEIR: Despite what the president says?

HERNANDEZ: You know what, we don't follow -- I don't see TV, so I don't -- I don't even pay attention to that. I pay attention to the mission that I have in my heart, which is fixing Puerto Rico.

WEIR: In just a few hours we've been out shooting, an amazing development here at this abandon airport. The Air National Guard, out of Tennessee and Kentucky, has arrived and are militarizing this airport. They tell me off camera they've got 500 guys, more are coming, that they've been sitting back home for two weeks chomping at the bit to come, but there's so many layers of bureaucratic red tape, they just couldn't pull the trigger. But, the good news is, they are here now. They've got supplies and they're going to start pushing them into the mountains as soon as they possibly can.


HARLOW: Wow, amazing to see. Bill Weir, thank you for the reporting on the ground in Puerto Rico. We will stay there.

Meantime, part of Florida under a state of emergency right now, hours before a planned speech from a white supremacist.


[09:42:22] HARLOW: This -- this morning --

BERMAN: This morning a Florida county under a state of emergency -- HARLOW: Sorry.

BERMAN: J-o-h-n.

HARLOW: I know, it's one of those mornings. Forgive.

BERMAN: It is one of those mornings.

All right, it is a bit of a controversial morning in the state of Florida. The county under a state of emergency ahead of what is a controversial speech. In just a few hours, white nationalist Richard Spencer, he'll make an appearance at the University of Florida.

HARLOW: It is Spencer's first visit to a college campus since the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, which claimed the life of Heather Heyer. Today's event is stoking fear of more violence.

Let's go to our Rosa Flores. She is in Gainesville, Florida.

Look, legally there was nothing they could do. The university, public university, they cannot prevent him from speaking there despite the disgusting message that he will spread. What are people saying?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there's a lot of anxiety from students. I talked to multiple students yesterday, and they said that their biggest fear was that someone was going to bring a gun on their campus and they couldn't stop thinking about Charlottesville and the deadly rally that happened here -- happened there.

But let me show you around because there is a concerted effort to make sure that students do feel safe. And, Poppy and John, as you know, we've seen in other rallies that one of the biggest issues is that protesters are not separated.

Let me show you what's being done here to make sure that that doesn't happen, that protesters aren't mixed. There will be a section of protesters beyond these barricades, and then this entire swath of land, about 50 yards that you're looking in front of me, that's an area just for law enforcement. And then the area beyond those barricades is where the other set of protesters will be.

Now, here's another very important point. These trash cans that are here, these large bins, these are important because this is where all of the prohibited items will be tossed. There is a long list of prohibited items. And law enforcement here has been very clear, no one will be allowed with sticks, shields, umbrellas, anything that can be used as a weapon.

So as you can see, just by the lay of the land here, they are making a concerted effort, John and Poppy, to make sure that everyone can express their First Amendment right, but peacefully.

John. Poppy.

HARLOW: All right, we'll be watching. Rosa Flores, thank you very much for being there and reporting on this. Again, this is about to happen in just a few hours.

Joining us ahead of this speech is Dr. Vincent Adejumo. He's a lecturer with the African-American studies program at the University of Florida.

Doctor, thank you for being with us.

You have written about this, talked about this, and you equate the mood on campus right now as a powder keg. What are you hearing from students and from faculty?

VINCENT ADEJUMO, LECTURER, AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA: Yes, it's definitely a powder keg. That's definitely the feeling that students and faculty have on campus. Many of my students have already gone home. Some have left the campus on Monday, actually.

[09:45:07] And it's really a concerning thing because 110 years ago, actually, the state of Florida, governor at the time, Napoleon Broward, actually declared ethnic cleansing in the state of Florida on African-Americans. So the fact that we have this rhetoric again here in 2017, it's a very concerning thing, especially for our minority community. And it's a very particular, sensitive issue for African- Americans, not only on this campus, but all around the state of Florida.

BERMAN: Look, I think white nationalism is a sensitive issue or should be --

HARLOW: Forever.

BERMAN: For each and every American. I think we can agree on that, doctor.

You take issue with the message being sent by the university right now, why?

ADEJUMO: Well, I take issue -- it's a -- many of the students and faculty are confused by the message because on the one hand the university says that it wants to make sure that our -- it says that they do not agree with Richard Spencer being on campus and that it is a security issue, and that in certain situations it is said that the university can block these type of events if it's a security issue. So many of the students and faculty have questions in the sense that, OK, if you're going to spend over $500,000 on security, then why are we having this event in the first place?

HARLOW: You know, this state of emergency has been declared, as you know, and Richard Spencer has sort of taken a hold of that and, you know, embraced it. He calls it flattering, saying, I am in the same genre as hurricanes and invading armies. Hurricane Ricardo expected to hit Gainesville Thursday. He tweeted that, along with this picture.

Do you think, as an editorial in "The Washington Post" says this morning, that he is getting sort of more attention, more credit out of calling this a state of emergency in Florida? ADEJUMO: Oh, most definitely. He is definitely getting the attention

that he seeks. And it just calls into question what strategy our public institution is going to take in the future because, again, this is -- it's a big safety issue. Right now we're basically in a police state when you go along certain streets, certain main streets are closed in Gainesville. And you see hundreds and hundreds and thousands of state troopers and different types of police officers, and that scares students. That scares not only students, but the citizens in Gainesville.

And so, again, so moving forward, public universities really have to figure out a strategy in labeling this correctly, which it, it is a big security issue. And we know from prior incidents what this group brings to the table.

BERMAN: All right, Doctor Vincent, as you know, I think we're all counting on folks like you to spread the right message, which is one of love, to be sure, not the message that will be delivered by Richard Spencer today. Thanks so much for being with us, doctor.

ADEJUMO: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, tricked into helping the Kremlin turn Americans against each other. How personal trainers here in the United States were unknowingly enlisted by Russian trolls.


[09:52:45] HARLOW: This morning, new details in the investigation into Russia's election meddling. "The Daily Beast" reports key figures in the president's campaign retweeted messages from a Russian troll farm (ph) account. Most notably the two people you see on your screen, the president's son, Don Jr., and Kellyanne Conway, just up to a week before the election. Next hour we will speak with one of the reporters who broke that story.

BERMAN: And this comes as CNN has learned some of the intricate plots that the Russians used, the tactics that they used to try to disrupt the United States population.

Drew Griffin explains.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In January of this year, well after the presidential election, New York martial arts instructor Omawale Adewale says he was contacted by a group called Black Fist, saying it would pay him to hold free self-defense classes for members of the black community.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Did you ever think this is weird?

OMAWALE ADEWALE, MARTIAL ARTS BOXING INSTRUCTOR: Yes. A lot of times I thought it was -- I thought it was weird.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Weird, but the money was good. $320 a month, paid direct through Paypal and Google Wallet, to teach just four classes and Black Fist would promote it. What was also weird, no one from Black Fist ever showed up to meet him. His only communication was in text and far-away sounding phone calls from this man named Taylor.

TAYLOR: Yes, hello, Walli, this is Taylor. I wanted to confirm the self-defense classes that we talked about last time.

GRIFFIN: The digital trail suggests the contact on the phone was part of a Russian propaganda arm seeking to stoke racial tensions and disrupt the U.S. political system. CNN has confirmed the social media accounts connected to Black Fist are among the pages FaceBook identified as coming from Russians, according to a source familiar up with the matter. Links to those accounts appear on the Black Fist website. And Black Fist, which portrayed itself as an activist group seeking to empower black Americans, was likely developed inside the Russian troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia.

GRIFFIN (on camera): They convinced you.

ADEWALE: Very easily. Very, very easily. Some of the things were, you know, sketchy, but at the end of the day, it's still fitness. What is this -- what's -- it's just training. I mean we're just training people.

[09:55:05] GRIFFIN (voice-over): Look at what Black Fist said about its self-defense classes. They are by black for black, and, let them know that black power matters.

Adewale's contact also wanted these, videos and photos of blacks learning self-defense.

Adewale wasn't the only one. Personal trainers in classes promoted in other cities, Los Angeles, Lancing, Michigan, according to Event Bright and other pages, where classes were being publicized there were dozens. In Tampa, Florida, amateur boxer Chuck "Jetton" Jefferson says Black Fist found him through Instagram, offered to pay him $100 a class, like Adewale, through Paypal. He confirms it was the same voice on the other end of the phone call. The same demand for videos to prove classes took place. And though the entire setup sounded odd, he's having a hard time understanding why Russians were behind it.

CHUCK "JETTON" JEFFERSON, AMATEUR BOXER/TRAINER: So, I mean, when you have somebody that's going to pay you to do something you love, I mean, it's hard to see it like a negative thing. It's hard to see it in that light. But, I mean, like I said, it was weird, it was different.

GRIFFIN: The Russian magazine RBC first identified Black Fist, as well as dozens of other FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, designed to look and act like real Americans. They say we're all part of the Russian Internet research agency and had a reach of 70 million people weekly.


BERMAN: All right, Drew Griffin, thanks so much for that report. We have new information on the deadly ambush on U.S. troops in Niger and new questions about the White House response.