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Democrats on Al Franken; Struggling After Disaster; Secret UFO Program Revealed; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 20, 2017 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Al Franken, your Democratic Senator -- Senate colleague. There's been some calls for him to reconsider, for him to rethink his resignation and not resign. Do you think he should resign or not?

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: Alisyn, when the -- when the -- a number of my colleagues publicly called on Al to resign, I did not do that because I felt like what you owe a colleague is to have a conversation with him in person. And I talked to him in person and he told me, Tim, I'm going to make an announcement and I'm going to do the right thing. And the next day he did announce that he was resigning. And I do think that's the right thing. So I don't think we ought to look backward.

The Minnesota governor has already nominated another elected official of Minnesota to fill the post. I think we move forward. But we've got to fix the process here in Congress so that claims can be known and we do the right thing and people don't have to suffer in silence if they feel abused.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but is it part of the right thing letting a process happen and having the Ethics Committee look into it?

KAINE: That is part of the right thing. But, look, under the circumstances -- and it was very, very tough and very painful for a good guy like Al, a good senator like Al. But enough allegations had been made of behavior that were inappropriate. And when we talked personally, he said, look, I've made a decision. I'm going to do the right thing. And I think he did make -- I think he did make the right decision.

CAMEROTA: And you don't think that he's having any second thoughts and that he might reconsider?

KAINE: No -- certainly I don't know of any. Yes.

CAMEROTA: OK. So that leads us to what Congress is doing about sexual harassment, right?

KAINE: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So we call -- during the course of this Me Too moment, we've learned about this basically secret slush fund. I mean nobody knew about it. Even people in Congress, as you know, didn't know this existed --

KAINE: Right. Right.

CAMEROTA: To pay off sexual harassment settlements, to the tune of something like $17 million, some of it for other settlements as well.

KAINE: For not -- yes, for claims about things other than sexual harassment, right.

CAMEROTA: And the reason we don't know the details is because this hasn't been aired out and sort of exposed to sunlight.

KAINE: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: You tried to get the details from the Office of Compliance. You were rejected. What? What are they telling you?

KAINE: Alisyn, this so strange. I was reading articles in the papers about claims that had been leveled in the House, and I thought, well, why aren't there any articles about the Senate. So I wrote the office and I said, give me information about claims that have been made, sexual harassment claims, either against senators, their staffers or committee staffs, protect confidentiality, but we need to know the scope of this problem if we're going to fix the problem.

And I got a letter back Monday. They refused to give me the information. The House has already put the information out, but the Senate -- the office will not give me the information in the Senate.

Now --

CAMEROTA: But who's the -- who's the ultimate authority on this? Who's going to get the information?

KAINE: Well, here's what they said. If you read between the lines in their letter they said, we've given this information to the Senate Rules Committee and I think they want the release of the information to be through the Rules Committee, just like it was in the House. They gave the information to the House committee, and the chairman, to his credit, a Republican chairman, released the information protecting confidentiality.

CAMEROTA: But you haven't had that in the Senate?

KAINE: Now it's up to the Senate Rules Committee to do exactly the same thing and they need to do it.

CAMEROTA: OK, understood. Senator Tim Kaine, thank you very much. Merry Christmas to you.

KAINE: Hey, thanks, Alisyn. Take care.

CAMEROTA: Thanks.

Bill. BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: The Federal Emergency Management system in this country is broke and the system is broken. That's according to the head of FEMA. So what about the survivors? How are they doing months after the most disastrous summer in recent memory? I'll check back into Florida and Texas, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:37:22] WEIR: It could go down as the most destructive and expensive summer in American history after three monster hurricanes and all those wildfires out west. Over 5 million Americans have been getting a lesson in how disaster recovery works in this country.

We checked in on Puerto Rico yesterday. And this morning I want to go back to the disaster zones in Florida and Texas to show you how folks are faring. And, as you'll see, the needs are still alarming.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WEIR (voice-over): Most folks will remember Harvey for the water, the boats on boulevard, as Houston became a giant concrete bowl full of rain.

But on the coast, they remember the wind, how the storm stalled here for 13 hours, spat out dozens of tornadoes and took apart a town devoted to birds, art and the sea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The aquarium that doesn't exist anymore. The Rockport Center for the Arts that doesn't exist anymore.

WEIR: One of these trucks holds 100 cubic yards of broken lives. Rockport will fill 200,000 loads. There's not a single habitable apartment in town. The schools are two-thirds full and the mayor worries his town could actually die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we had over 1,300 businesses operating in the community. As of last week, we had 360 that re-open.

WEIR (on camera): Geez, and that's your tax base, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is.

WEIR (voice-over): There's a big FEMA tent downtown, but the Rockport relief camp --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm good. Did you have a good Thanksgiving?

WEIR: Is just really Samantha's backyard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is donated furniture. This is more donated supplies.

WEIR: Where she housed, fed and supplied dozens of families with only private donations solicited on FaceBook. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our diaper barn.

WEIR (on camera): Look at this. That's the generosity of strangers there, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. And I want to -- I want to make sure that everyone understands, we have received no state, county, national -- no government assistance at all. We got denied by FEMA three times. So we have --

WEIR: How do you feel about that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it pisses me off.

WEIR: But, just five minutes away, Beau (ph) and Rene (ph) could not be happier with FEMA, because they just received a brand-new, three bedroom, three bath home, way more than one couple needs but FEMA insisted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when I got the call about this, I was kind of shocked. I was like --

WEIR: You won the FEMA lottery, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was just like, but I didn't sign up for this.

WEIR (voice-over): Meanwhile, back at Samantha's relief camp, a family of six share as donated RV and a woman nine months pregnant lives in a tent.

[08:40:03] WEIR (on camera): It seems like the aid is as fickle as the storm as to who is touched.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. It is.

WEIR: And if you could talk to the head of FEMA, what would you say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pull your head out of your ass.

BROCK LONG, FEMA DIRECTOR: Listen, I identify with Samantha's frustrations. I mean when you've lost -- not only you, but your neighbors have lost everything you've ever worked for, it's an incredibly tough situation.

WEIR: Brock Long knows something about frustration, and baptism by fire, wind and water. Since taking over FEMA in June, nearly 5 million people have registered for disaster aid, more than Katrina and Sandy and Wilma combined.

LONG: But you have to understand, we don't have thousands -- tens of thousands of manufactured homes and travel trailers just stored somewhere ready to go. We have to buy these things.

WEIR: One FEMA trailer like that from cradle to grave costs what?

LONG: Anywhere between $200,000 and $300,000. And then when it's done, I'm not allowed to reuse that trailer. I can't refuse it, reuse it. We have to dispose of it.

WEIR: And look at this. This is everywhere on Big Pine Key, just mountains of busted appliances and mattresses. Look at these trashed jet skis over here.

WEIR (voice-over): Meanwhile, the Florida Keys are providing another lesson in how FEMA dollars are spent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, Key West is close to perfect.

WEIR: While they try to salvage the tourist season in Key West, the drive to Key West is far from normal. And it's all thanks to messy local politics. Even though Monroe County had cleanup contracts in place before the storm, Florida gave out emergency contracts two days after when demand for men and machinery was sky high. Before the storm, a contractor would have charged $3,200 to haul away a wrecked boat like this --

WEIR (on camera): Or $1,000 for a refrigerator that should cost $100.

LONG: Right.

WEIR: Meanwhile, you can't pay your guys overtime.

LONG: Right.

WEIR: Should be outraged about that?

LONG: FEMA doesn't do debris. You know what we do? We coordinate the grant funding down to a governor, to the local communities to help them pay for those debris. I don't think FEMA should dictate the market rate of the private sector.

WEIR: Here at Snappers (ph) in south Key Largo, they're partying. Everybody here is staying, right?

WEIR (voice-over): But maybe the best recovery lesson comes from a foul-mouthed bar owner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not leaving until its really -- the shit hits the fan.

WEIR: Oh, OK, you can't say that, but --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry. Sorry to stay that.

WEIR (voice-over): Peter went viral by mocking the storm with two s- bombs right before Irma turned Snappers to driftwood.

WEIR (on camera): It's completely gone.

WEIR (voice-over): But thanks to decent insurance and devoted regulars who helped him clean up --

WEIR (on camera): What's up guys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing?

WEIR: How are you?

WEIR (voice-over): They were open within days.

WEIR (on camera): Look at that, it's a party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it was a very positive (INAUDIBLE) right after the hurricane and everybody's helping each other out. And the government is not doing anything. And you should expect that the government stands up and the government helps, and only help and only don't be in our way. Just do it. Make it happen. Make it happen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WEIR: In fairness, somebody who works in cleanup told me that right now we need five Brock Longs, we need five FEMA administrators, there's such need out there. There's an $80 billion emergency funding bill that Congress folks from Texas and Florida are trying to jam through, but it doesn't include -- it could be $100 billion to replace what's happening in Puerto Rico down there. So the need is so massive.

And while the FEMA administrator won't acknowledge that climate change is driving this new normal, he wants everybody to rethink the way we do about the Calvary coming over the hill. That's not happening. And ultimately neighborhoods have to take care of themselves for the next one.

CAMEROTA: Listen. Bill, I mean your reporting has been so valuable down there. I've been giving a few speeches on journalism lately and about the importance of journalism and I always cite your reporting --

WEIR: Oh, thank you.

CAMEROTA: And Leyla Santiago's in Puerto Rico in particular because what federal officials told us was not the truth.

WEIR: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And if we only had what they told us where it was a good news story, the recovery there is a good news story, we wouldn't have known unless you went to these places what it was really like on the ground and the difference -- the discrepancy in the death toll, et cetera, et cetera.

So thank goodness the reporters and journalist are on the ground bringing us the real story.

WEIR: Yes, what's funny is Brock Long's folks asked for Samantha, who said, pull your head out, asked for her number and hopefully they'll help her out. I wish I could do that for the five million other people who desperately are hoping for some ray of hope.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

WEIR: Anyway -- CAMEROTA: Well, listen, by reporting you are shedding light on all of that.

WEIR: Yes.

CAMEROTA: OK, so now here's another story that we need to shed some light on. Have space aliens visited earth?

WEIR: This morning or in general?

CAMEROTA: You laugh. You laugh. The Pentagon's former UFO hunter says we may not be alone. What does astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson think? He's just landed from his spaceship here in our studio.

[08:45:09] We can't wait to talk to you about this. Great to see you.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST: (INAUDIBLE).

WEIR: Great to have you here.

TYSON: All right. Good. (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: Spooky music.

WEIR: This is going to be fun to talk about.

CAMEROTA: I like this.

WEIR: Oh, look at the -- the great expanse behind us.

CAMEROTA: The cosmos.

WEIR: Are we alone in the universe? This is the question that has plagued man's minds forever. And now the Pentagon says, hey, maybe not. They have acknowledged a top secret program that shows the government has been trying to answer that question for years, and the Department of Defense released videos showing what it says is an unidentified flying object and the pilot who witnessed this describes what he saw to CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID FRAVOR, NAVAL COMMANDER: Well, the first thing is, it had no wings. So you think, OK, it's a helicopter. Well, there's no rotor wash in the water. There's no rotors. And when helicopters move to us, side to side, they kind of slow and then they pick up speed going the other way. This was extremely abrupt, like a ping pong ball bouncing off a wall. It would hit and go the other way and change directions at will. And then the -- the ability to hover over the water and then start a vertical climb from basically zero up towards about 12,000 feet and then accelerate in less than two seconds and disappear is something I had never seen in my life. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:50:20] WEIR: I saw it in "The Last Jedi." But we should probably figure out the practicality of this with astrophysicist director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, rock star of silence explanations.

Great to see you.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST: It's real because it's in the movies, so it's real.

WEIR: I mean that must -- they must be real.

CAMEROTA: And this is his book, which is awesome, "Astrophysicist for People in A Hurry."

God bless you.

WEIR: A bestseller.

TYSON: Oh, yes, thank you. Yes, I'm still shocked that people care about it at the level they have.

WEIR: You shouldn't be. You shouldn't be. You are our science explainer in chief. And so explain what you see on that video?

TYSON: Well, so people, I think, have conflated the concept of a UFO with whether we're visited by aliens. UFO means unidentified flying object. OK. This is a highly nonspecific term.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

TYSON: It is so nonspecific, it admits you don't know what you're looking at.

CAMEROTA: But what's driving that thing if it's not a space alien?

TYSON: It's unidentified.

CAMEROTA: OK.

TYSON: So --

CAMEROTA: That's not good enough.

TYSON: Well -- so the universe brims with mysteries. And so just because you don't know what it is you're looking at doesn't mean it's intelligent aliens visiting from another planet.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

WEIR: (INAUDIBLE).

TYSON: You just said you don't know what you're looking. So it's not -- you cannot as a next sentence say, therefore it must be anything. CAMEROTA: Yes, but you know what we're looking at. You stare at the cosmos for a living.

TYSON: I'm not authorized to go beyond this point (ph).

CAMEROTA: Wow.

WEIR: There is (ph).

CAMEROTA: So we're serious.

WEIR: (INAUDIBLE).

TYSON: Well, a couple of things.

CAMEROTA: What do you see when you --

TYSON: Just consider what made people interested in this is that it involved the Pentagon and $22 million or whatever the figure was. Consider, by the way, that's $22 million over five years, and the Pentagon's budget is huge. So much of the Pentagon budget is that? It's 0.0001 percent of the Pentagon budget. So, a. B, it's a flying object and we don't know what it is. I would hope somebody is checking it out. I would hope there's a program of our Defense Department to make sure they do not pose a threat. And, sure enough, that's what that program was.

CAMEROTA: But it just buzzed away. They didn't know what it was. It's --

TYSON: Of course.

CAMEROTA: We still don't know. It's a mystery.

TYSON: We still don't' know.

CAMEROTA: But -- hold on.

TYSON: And I'm -- I'm cool with that.

CAMEROTA: OK. That's where we differ. You are cool with letting that -- just letting that live out there.

WEIR: That's a must know.

TYSON: Scientist live in mystery every day of our lives. There's this -- there is the circle of knowledge that we have, and then there's beyond that circle is the unknown. And even as the parameter of that knowledge grows, OK, excuse me, as the area of the knowledge grows, so does the parameter of our ignorance, all right, because i's touching this wider and wider area.

CAMEROTA: OK, I understand. But you --

TYSON: So people are uncomfortable not knowing.

CAMEROTA: Well --

TYSON: Not the scientists. I'm fine. We don't know what it is. Keep checking it out.

CAMEROTA: OK, but hold on a second, there's another question --

TYSON: Call me -- call me when you have a dinner invite from an alien. That's a different conversation.

CAMEROTA: That's a -- so you're skeptical? You're skeptical that space aliens have visited earth?

TYSON: The evidence is so poultry for aliens to visit earth, I have no further interest. Let other people who care, go ahead. And then when you finally find some aliens, bring them into Times Square. No, no, there are too many weird people there.

WEIR: Yes, (INAUDIBLE) --

CAMEROTA: I think that happened, actually.

TYSON: They will not stand out in Times Square.

CAMEROTA: Right.

TYSON: Try not to come back during Comic-con when the alien would just blend in. Find -- go to the county fair or something where there's a uniformity of who's there and then you -- so -- and everybody's got a high definition video camera on them now. What -- where would --

WEIR: Yes, there would be (INAUDIBLE).

TYSON: Where -- we have video footage of rare things that you knew happened but no one saw it happen, like buses tumbling in tornadoes. You -- in the day you didn't say, oh, there's a -- that bus is about to tumble, let me go back and get my video camera to film this. No, you got your tail out of there. Everybody's got a video camera. I'm just waiting for images of people visiting -- having tea with aliens on the spacecraft. Then --

WEIR: But you do acknowledge that carbon is not a rare substance --

TYSON: It is everywhere in the universe.

WEIR: And there must be carbon-based life forms out there somewhere?

TYSON: If there's life elsewhere, it is likely based on carbon, not only because carbon is abundant, but it is highly versatile in what kinds of molecules it makes. And if you need the diversity of life is enabled and empowered by the diversity of the molecules carbon can give you.

WEIR: But do you think there's intelligent life out there?

TYSON: I would first start with that question on earth first. You set me up for that. No, so the question is, have aliens visited and just kept going

because there was no sign of intelligent life? We use our -- who defined us as intelligent? We did.

WEIR: We did.

TYSON: OK. So is that some cosmic measure of intelligence? Perhaps not. And so who are we to say?

I'm just saying, it seems to me aliens who visited us, it would be much -- they would manifest more convincingly than fuzzy video. And there's no reason to assume that because you don't know what you're looking at, it equals aliens that visited us from outer space.

[08:55:16] I'm glad the Pentagon was looking at this because if it posed a threat, I want them on top of it right away. And, otherwise -- and the program is closed down. They said, all right, not a threat.

CAMEROTA: Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the book again, "Astrophysics for People in A Hurry."

TYSON: And I don't want to stop people from doing it. Go, keep --

WEIR: Keep looking.

TYSON: Get it. Keep looking. Go.

CAMEROTA: Go after -- get after it.

TYSON: Go. Bring your video cameras and go.

WEIR: There you go.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thanks for being here.

WEIR: We're going to go look for aliens.

TYSON: Go for it.

CAMEROTA: We are.

TYSON: Call me when you got it.

WEIR: (INAUDIBLE) continues with the "Good Stuff," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: OK, time now for "The Good Stuff." Customers at a Michigan restaurant showing they're extra generous around Christmas. That was the case for Mary Lively (ph) who served a table of seven at Theo and Stacey's (ph) Restaurant in Kalamazoo. Mike Tonto Alexander (ph) and his buddies went all in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Merry Christmas. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Open it right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you're going to take my picture?

[09:00:02] Oh, my God!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK, so what was in there. They pulled together a $1,000 trip. Lively plans on using the cash to pay bills and buy some gifts for her family. That's the best tip ever.