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Terrifying half hour in Hawaii this morning; President Trump slurred immigrants from quote "shithole countries" referring to Africa specifically; Aired 3-4p ET

Aired January 13, 2018 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:08] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. It is 3:00 here in New York, noon on the west coast and 10:00 a.m. in Hawaii where a terrifying alert went out this morning that turned out to be a false alarm, thankfully.

I'm Ana Cabrera. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Here is what happened. A statewide emergency message went out ordering people in Hawaii to take shelter because a ballistic missile or missiles were headed to Hawaii. For nearly 40 minutes, the people of that state who got that message had reason to believe they were under attack. Thankfully, again thankfully, this was just a false alarm. But the panic and fear was very real. And I want to take you to Hawaii right now where the governor just spoke. Let's listen in.

GOV. DAVID IGE, HAWAII: This morning an error was made and a false alarm was sent to cellphones and to TV and radio. We investigated and as soon as we became aware that it was an error, we took action to send the notification that it was a false alarm. This should not have happened. We are investigating the sequence of events that occurred. And an error was made in emergency management which allowed this false alarm to be sent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain the error in-depth as much as you can?

IGE: It was a procedure that occurs at the change of shift, where they go to make sure that the system is working and an employee pushed the wrong button.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It came down to a person pushing the wrong button? Who is that person?

VERN MYAGI, ADMINISTRATOR, HAWAII EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: It is my responsibility, so this would be my fault. For our purpose of this, the change of shift briefing, it is for each shift to understand what is the process. We will take action to prevent this will never than again by having more than one person there to do this, make this decision. But again, let me finish the investigation. This is my fault and we will ensure this never happens again.


MYAGI: I'm the administrator of the Hawaii emergency management agency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you hear when it happened?

MYAGI: No. This is the design center. We don't have to here. This type of thing happens. We don't have people calling us for to get permission. We have such a short time. This is regrettable. It won't happen again because the criticality of the time in this type of the event and the credibility of this alarm going out is critical for us saving lives. So we will take action to make sure this doesn't happen again.

IGE: You know, and certainly the whole situation is a balance. We do know that under a ballistic missile attack, the time frame allowed for response is very short. And so we have been working and understanding to keep the people as much notice as we can. And obviously, there was a breakdown in procedure that allowed the false alarm to occur. It is regrettable and we will be looking at all of the policies and procedures that occur at the change of shift and other times that may be vulnerable to make sure that this event does not happen again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we were at the news station when it happened and a lot of folks did not know what do. We tried to get in contact to confirm what had happened and about 30 on minutes later, another alarm went off. So there was a pretty long back time (INAUDIBLE).

MYAGI: We need to work on the response time. If anything like this happens, the cancellation has to go right away. So let me work through that and find out what the process was and why it didn't go out quicker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us why not all cellphones received the alert?

MYAGI: I can't tell you equipment-wise, but I think it depends on the carrier, what is the carrier or company that sponsors that. But we will review that, too, because all of them should have gotten it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, under the best circumstances, if they realized a mistake is made right away, could they have written out a correction and pressed the button to send it out within a minute?

MYAGI: Well, there is a cancellation process that should have gone out right away. So let me get in to that and why it did not work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us anything about that right now?

MYAGI: Not right now. I have to go back and check into it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the person who pressed the wrong button, they were by themselves in the room, nobody else around?

MYAGI: Yes. It was an inadvertent mistake. The change of shift is about three people to three people 24/7. That should have been caught as far as the process should -- it should not have happened. So let me get in to that and make sure it won't happen again. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain, is it as simple as pressing a

button or is it going through --

MYAGI: There is a check list that is in place. So that should have been followed. And I'm going to find out why it wasn't or what happened. Again, let me assure you that I'm going to look through this, investigate, and this will not happen again.

[15:05:11] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was this a failure to plan in the first place before the program ever went into place, not to have a better safeguard?

MYAGI: No, I think we have the process in place. It is a matter of executing the process. Again, it was human error. And I would like to just make sure that -- it is human error. But the process has to be looked at. The procedures have to be looked at again to make sure this doesn't happen again.

IGE: This change in shift routine happens three times a day, seven days a week, 365 days out of the year before. And for the most part, it occurs flawlessly. There was an error today and we will be investigating and changing procedures so that we can avoid this from ever happening again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly there was a lot of panic today and now if there is another actual alert, there will be much doubt. So what is your message to the people out there who just aren't going to believe the next time?

IGE: We understand. I was awakened by the alert like everyone else here in the state of Hawaii. It is unfortunate and regrettable. We will be looking at how we can improve the procedure so it didn't happen again, you know. We are balancing informing the public as soon as possible. We definitely need to improve our procedures to ensure that when we find that it is this error, that we will be able to issue that as quickly as we inform the public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I think a lot of people, you know, will be relieved that it was a false alarm, but at the same time, it sort of brings us back that this action is a real threat, you know. This can actually happen.

MYAGI: Yes. I can't think any good on this. Again, what we experienced today. It happened. We can learn from it and get better.

IGE: There is a couple things in the procedure that alerts would go out and then the sirens would sound to inform people so that we know that not everyone would get notified via cellphones or TV and radio. And the sirens is a signal to tune into TV or radio to get more information. So clearly there would be a process that would occur if it was a real attack. We apologize for the false alarm. And certainly we will be looking at all the changes we need to make to ensure that this never happens again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did the military - what was the military drill this morning? IGE: They were not --

MYAGI: No specific military role.

MAJOR GEN. GARY M. HARA, DEPUTY COMMANDING GENERAL U.S. ARMY PACIFIC: I was with (INAUDIBLE) air force base for me. And as soon as we got the alert, general Logan contacted U.S. (INAUDIBLE) to verify is that was a false alarm. Once we had confirmation that's when we started working through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you guys all - when that alarm went off, you guys have a procedure that you guys contact the civil defense and they give whether or not it was a false alarm or true or not?

HARA: Yes. So we did both. Both confirming with the Hawaii emergency management agency and with the United States pacific command.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So military leaders, when they got the alert, they must have been --

HARA: We were in a meeting and about ten people all at the same time got the alert and it was (INAUDIBLE). They started contacting the appropriate personnel.

I wanted to clarify an earlier question. So what should the public do? The bottom line is if there is an alert like this that occurs can again, take the appropriate action. Get inside, stay inside and stay tuned. If there is an all clear given, that is how you will be notified through the media. So we just urge public to keep with that briefings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Imagine there will be some follow-ups. Are you guys offering any other media availability today to learn more about it? There are still a lot of unanswered questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anything else happens, we'll send out an advisory.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will keep you guys in the loop.


CABRERA: Again, just moments ago, we are hearing there from state officials about exactly the governor of Hawaii about exactly what happened to result in a false alarm being sent out that a ballistic missile or missiles were headed to Hawaii. It took 38 minutes before a correction was actually sent out via the same system that sent out the original message. The original message said this was not a drill, which sent people into panic.

I want to bring in our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott here.

So Elise, a couple of takeaways here. Obviously a huge sigh of relief that this warning appears to be some kind of a mistake that somebody pushed the wrong button on is what we have just learned. But the bottom line is, it scared the whole state of Hawaii a whole lot.

Walk us through what we knew before this press conference because it kind of picked up with some of the trailing questions that we had. But there is a lot more that was to the story.

[15:10:30] ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana there are a lot of unanswered questions right now. And nerves obviously going to be raw not just in the United States, but I think and particularly in Hawaii, but around the world for some time. So around 1:30, those texts started going out. And a lot of concern, you know, that you know, you look at the time that it was in North Korea, you look at the fact that, you know, Hawaii local broadcasts were not broadcasting, you wonder maybe it was a false alarm.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard immediately got on the phone, started calling local officials in Hawaii, calling military pacific command, trying to find out what happened. She really was the first public official to say this is a false alarm, do not worry. I'm being assured that this is a false alarm.

About 20 minutes later, pacific command then put out their own notice that said this was false alarm. We have detected no ballistic missile activity. And it -- you have to note that pacific command, strategic command, NORAD, all these federal military divisions are the ones that have the assets to detect any incoming ballistic missile activity. That is where the state of Hawaii would be getting their information from. And they saw this the state of Hawaii was not putting anything out. They immediately, pacific command on the record put out a statement there -- this was a false alarm. There is no activity. Again, we are still waiting for the state of Hawaii to put out their message.

CNN had Tulsi Gabbard on the air. She was talking about what she learned. The other senator, state senator, Dan Schatz also put out something on twitter -Brian Schatz, excuse me. I know I was going to get that wrong, but that it was human error. And then we started to hear from other officials. Thirty-eight minutes it took the state of Hawaii to put out that false alarm.

And look, that - you know, when you talk to people that are in charge of these kind of systems, usually a system goes out that says this is a test, you know. It's kind of like when CNN has a report or a government has a report that is a draft, you do not put out -- you don't even have a message like that without any kind of embargo or saying this is a test because of accidents do happen and these type of accidents you get concerned.

But you know, look, there were a lot of concerns that perhaps this could have been a hack. Cyber systems obviously a lot more attention to that by the U.S. military. That doesn't seem to be the case. But a lot of concerns that adversaries around the world could have been watching this, noting the response time that it took, the state of Hawaii. Particularly, North Korea could be watching that. So a lot of raw nerves throughout the U.S. government, the FBI, DHS, FEMA were all watching this very carefully and they are going to demand answers as to how this happened.

CABRERA: And the investigation is really just beginning into those questions.

Thank you, Elise Labott.

I want to bring in the Hawaii senator Brian Schatz joining us on the phone right now. He tweeted this moments ago, again false alarm. What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.

Senator, thank you for joining us. First, what is going through your mind right now after hearing from state officials now about what happened?

BRIAN SCHATZ, HAWAII STATE SENATOR (on the phone): This is not acceptable. They did have a failure to plan. But they hadn't articulated the process that works. And that is what we just went through.

People were terrified. Children were sheltering in place in locker rooms. People were crying. Businesses were shutting down. Everybody didn't know what to do. And the anxiety that we went through was real and terrifying across the state of Hawaii.

But more than that, this undermines our ability to reliably notify the state of Hawaii in case there is a real emergency. And Hawaii emergency management agency has done great work in preparing for and responding to natural disasters like tsunamis and hurricanes, but they blew it here. It is totally unacceptable.

I listened in on that press conference. And they don't quite understand how bad this was to the extent that one person was in a position to make a human error and send more than a million and a half people into a tail spin and it took 38 minutes to correct, there is just no excuse for that. I'm a pretty even keeled guy, but I'm quite angry.

[15:15:14] CABRERA: We heard from Vern Myagi, he is the administrator of the Hawaii emergency agency as part of that quick little news conference that we are playing at the top of our hour, and he does say I take responsibility for this. This is on my watch. And here is how they explain what happened.

They said that they were going through the normal shift change procedures and somebody simply pushed the wrong button. And when asked why it took so long for them to follow up with another message, he said we don't know right now. We are investigating into that.

He is taking responsibility. Does he get credit for that at least?

SCHATZ: That is fine. But I will just tell you that, you know, Joe Logan, the adjutant general, when he got the notification, he immediately called the pacific command and confirmed in that moment that it was a false alarm. Once he confirmed that it was a false alarm, in the age of social media, that needed to be tweeted out within 30 seconds. And once we confirmed with PACOM, NORAD, our missile defense agency that this was not happening, everybody needed to be informed. And the time - the human error at the front end is process problem and that needs to be addressed. The personnel accountability always needs to be addressed. But the fact that state government knew it was a false alarm and then took between 30 and 40 minutes to inform the rest of the public is just an abomination.

CABRERA: I want to ask you very quickly about how people reacted to this false alarm. Thank goodness it was a false alarm. But people didn't know what to do. They didn't know how they were going to protect themselves if this had been real. Did this incident now expose a real vulnerability in terms of where people, what people should do and knowing that there is actually a procedure in place should this happen for on real?

SCHATZ: Well, it is a good reminder for everybody that if they don't know what they are supposed to do in the case that this is not a false alarm, that they ought to get their own internal emergency procedures ready. They need to be able to contact friends and family. They need to be able to collect the people who are close to them and shelter in place. That is always the advice in a situation like this. It is very simple. It is about sheltering in place and getting as quickly indoors as you possibly came.

But it is also a good reminder if people weren't sure what to do, what that they need to figure out what to do. But listen, that is the kind of thing that the testing process, the public education process, is supposed to accomplish. You are not supposed to accomplish this by this massive screw-up.

CABRERA: No doubt about it.

Senator Brian Schatz, thank you very much for your time. We hope you will keep in touch with us as the investigation is just now getting under way.

And much more on a breaking in just a moment. Don't go anywhere.


[15:21:55] CABRERA: Our breaking news this hour, People in Hawaii being alerted on their phones and TVs today that a missile or missiles were about to strike them. Now this was a false alarm. But they weren't told that for more than 30 minutes. The governor says an employee hit the wrong button during shift change.

I want to bring in someone currently in Hawaii, Kenyatta Hines, is in the U.S. Navy, just moved to Hawaii three weeks ago to study to become a chaplain.

Kenyatta, thank you for joining us. Tell us about the moment you got this alert.

KENYATTA HINES, JUST MOVED TO HAWAII: Good morning. Thank you for having me. Approximately at around 0800 in the morning, my phone went off and alerting me that a bomb, missile bomb was heading to Hawaii and that it was not an alarm. At the moment, I was actually washing my hair and I jumped out of the shower to read the message and try to call my boyfriend who actually is stationed at Pearl Harbor. But at that moment, we could not use the phones to call in or out which made the situation a lot more stressful. (INAUDIBLE).

CABRERA: Did you know where to go or what to do?

HINES: No. At this time I didn't know exactly where the bomb shelter was located. However, my neighbors and I, we met in the hallway to try to figure out if we were going to go by car, if we were going to run.

CABRERA: So you were working with neighbors. So I presume they have maybe lived there a little bit longer. Sounds like everybody was really caught off guard. Have you heard if they have done tests or anything like this before to have sort of drills like we do and other places, I'm from Colorado and our tornado drills, we did go and you know, growing up through squad there, drills about what to do should a missile strike be imminent?

HINES: No. And for the locals, they know exactly what to do. But for residents who are new to the island, we are not informed on what to do. So I was just very blessed that my neighbors and locals knew exactly where to go. But she informed me that this is the first time that this has happened. Her grandfather actually survived Pearl Harbor. So just by being related to someone, (INAUDIBLE), she knew exactly what to do. (INAUDIBLE).

CABRERA: Kenyatta Hines, thank you so much for joining us. Difficult to hear you. I think our audio connection isn't as strong as it could be. But we appreciate you sharing your story for us. And thank you for your service.

HINES: You are welcome.

CABRERA: I want to talk more about all of this now with Republican member of Congress. Joining us Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida, the vice chairman of the House foreign affairs committee.

Congressman, thank you for your time. What is your reaction to the chaos caused by this false alarm and the 38 minute gap between the first message and the correction?

REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R), FLORIDA: Well, first of all, it is a really tangible reminder of what a dangerous world we are living in with this North Korea threat lurking over us. It must have been horrific in light of the circumstances to receive that. I don't know why it would take them 38 minutes to retract it either.

[15:25:02] CABRERA: Your colleague, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called this the stark reality. That, you know, it was obviously, a relief, this was just a false alarm. But the fact is it wasn't completely out of the realm of possibility. You touched on this. But tell us more about your thoughts on that? ROONEY: Well, you know, Kim Jong-un has said he is going to hit U.S.,

hit Hawaii, Hit Japan, and now to have that alarm go out in light of the - what's going on, it would just -- I think it would almost have a tinge of realism to it. I was just thinking what would I do if I was sitting on the beach in Hawaii and I look down and got in a notification, I don't know what I would do.

CABRERA: Same with a lot of people who were responding to that. We did hear about people running in to hotels, people getting in their bathrooms, thinking that may the safest place.

The timing, of course, comes just ahead of the second round of talks between North Korea and South Korea set to happen on Monday. And after the President this week told "the Wall Street Journal" he has a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un, the President obviously really all over the map on his rhetoric about North Korea. What does he need to say now following this situation?

ROONEY: I think he needs to continue to call on China to deal with their subsidiary in a responsible manner. I think he needs to maintain the consistent line that he has done so far. And I think that works well with Rex Tillerson's somewhat counter narrative, reminding everyone that we don't want to take over peninsula. We don't want regime change. We just want them to stop threatening the world with nuclear weapons.

CABRERA: We are still learning new information about what happened. Senator Schatz who we just spoke to a few minutes ago said this was human error that caused a false alarm. And that was also reiterated by the governor. And in fact the administrator of the state's emergency management agency is there. All a mistake, but it was something that happened so simply during shift change, a wrong button apparently. What do you think should be the next step as far as the investigation and making any kind of change?

ROONEY: Well, One thing I would do is I would put in place one of those second guessing notifications that when you hit it, it ask you one more time ask you sure you want to do that before it goes out. And then if you make a mistake, I would immediately have a procedure for calling it back.

CABRERA: Is this a situation you and your colleagues on the House foreign affairs committee have even discussed, what would we do as country should a missile be heading our way?

ROONEY: We haven't. I think the armed services committee may have, but what we have been discussing is the diplomatic solution to the problem that I mentioned earlier. You know, I was kind of just thinking about the old 1950s when everybody -- a lot of people built bomb shelters and things because we thought we are going to have ICBMs coming over from Russia. We have gone full circle here.

CABRERA: Congressman Francis Rooney, I want you standby because I want to talk to you about the fallout from the President's derogatory comment this week during a meeting about DACA and immigration.

So we will take a quick. We are back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:32:25] CABRERA: Now to another big story we are following in the NEWSROOM.

Fallout from what has been a truly chaotic 48 hours with the Trump administration, it began on Thursday that President Trump making racist comments during a bipartisan meeting on immigration.

Now during that meeting, President Trump slurred immigrants from quote "shithole countries" referring to Africa specifically. He also asked why the U.S. needs more immigrants from Haiti. And now the President denies using that specific language. But two lawmakers who were in the room confirm he made the vulgar remarks including a Republican and the other four lawmakers there have not denied them.

Today a group representing every African country is demanding a retraction and an apology. Meanwhile, as this plays out, President Trump has rejected a bipartisan deal on immigration and he is now blaming Democrats. He has also canceled an upcoming meeting to London which he is blaming on former President Obama.

He signed a Martin Luther King Jr. proclamation ahead of Monday's holiday. And the President also extended the Iran deal but with conditions. He warned this will be the last time he is going to give this deal more time unless changes are made. And finally Trump said he has quote "a very good relationship with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un." He won't say whether he has every talked to him though. All of this again in just the last 48 hours.

Let's bring back Republican congressman Francis Rooney.

Congressman, where do you stand on President Trump's comments referring to some African nations as s-hole countries and reportedly saying why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.

ROONEY: Well, if he said that, it is extremely disappointing. And it is an unfortunate distraction from getting something done on extending DACA in exchange for getting some security measures and visa reforms, the deal that was basically cut last week, this majority leader McCarthy to Senator Feinstein.

CABRERA: So just confirming, you denounce the President's words?

ROONEY: I would say it is disappointing and it is unfortunate distraction. We need get the people's business done. And there was a deal made last week that I thought was a pretty reasonable to combine, enhance border security, ending chain migration, ending with diversity lottery and extending DACA. And in fact, it is a lot like the 2013 security provisions that were in the immigration bill back then.

CABRERA: Is that the bill, as you understand, that was presented to the President which he rejected?

ROONEY: Well, I don't know what he has rejected. This is what they talked about at the White House on Thursday I think it was, Wednesday or Thursday. Wednesday I guess it was.

CABRERA: And let me ask you specifically about your district and these comments how they may be having a ripple effect among the people you serve. You represent Florida's 19th district. That includes Ft. Myers, Cape Coral, Naples. We know 7,000 Haitian immigrants live in Ft. Myers and Cape Coral alone according to the migration policy institute. So tell me how those Haitian immigrants contribute to their communities?

[15:35:17] ROONEY: Well, I'm worried about how they might feel right now. The Haitian community here in southwest Florida is a very important part of our overall community and our on economy. These are hardworking people, family people. I have met with them. I have walked neighborhoods with Pastor Joseph who is one of the leaders of the Haitian community. I have been to their churches. I have met with the health officials and hospitals down here where many of the TPS Haitians work and they are very valuable employees. And I signed a letter to the White House urging them to reconsider the TPS situation for Haitians.

CABRERA: So here is what we know. I mean, looking at education alone, according to the U.S. census bureau, 42 percent of African born residents have a college degree compared to 32 percent of native born U.S. residents. Data also shows immigrant pay billions of dollars in taxes every year. It sounds like you value their contributions to communities in Florida for example. How can anyone argue they aren't worth living in this country? That they are worthy of being here?

ROONEY: I don't argue that. I think one of the many unique strengths of the United States of America is that we are built on a diverse population. You know, the historic melting pot. We have always been able to accept immigrants, not terrorists, but immigrants, vetted ones and to assimilate them into a common American culture. And I think you have to have both. Immigration of good people and plus assimilation.

CABRERA: Congressman, how do you see the President's comment that impacted negotiation over legislation to protect the DREAMERs, undocumented immigrants who have brought to the U.S. as children?

ROONEY: Well, that is what I say about distractive. We don't have a lot of time and there was real progress made last week from what I understand from majority leader McCarthy. And so now we have this big rock thrown in the middle of the road and everybody is up in arms. And I hope they can get back to thinking logically and reasonably about taking care of these people whose lives were put at great risk by an unconstitutional program, if that is what it is. And to also take the opportunity to couple that with security enhancements, ending chain migration and diversity lottery like the Democrats have already voted for once back in 2013.

CABRERA: Well, the Democrats have said that they would be willing to add some border security measures to any kind of deal that is cut. But what you are saying and what the polling shows is that the majority of people both Republicans and Democrats vast majority want to protect these DREAMERs. Why not have that as a standalone bill? ROONEY: you know, Ana, I have not heard anybody that wants to -- that

does not want to take care of extending the DACA program. These kids came in here innocently. They have gone to school and got jobs. But we also have to strengthen our border and strengthen our visa system and reform our immigration system.

CABRERA: Can you get drill down to the specifics on that, though? Because, again, we are hearing the same thing from both Democrats and Republicans. It seem like this should be an easy deal then. When you talk about strengthening the border, are you saying there needs to be a wall as the President has so often talked about, that being one of his campaign promises?

ROONEY: Well, let's talk about the wall in a second, if we have time. You know, back in 2013, the bill included $1.3 billion for additional fencing. There are 350 miles of vehicle preventive wall around the major urban border crossings and there are 350 miles vehicle preventive crossings that allow people to walk through it. And so you could make an argument, OK, extend those a little bit in the areas where there are a lot of people crossing the border. (INAUDIBLE) in the first 40 miles west of the Gulf of Mexico.

CABRERA: So I'm hearing you say though there isn't a need for a complete wall that is aligning the border?

ROONEY: Well, part of that border, I don't know if you have traversed it, but for part of the border it would be very difficult to wall it off. A lot of it is in big canyons and the big been national park. And then the part of it west of Brownsville is the Rio Grande River. So you have to figure out where you put the wall.

CABRERA: So you don't think it is worth shutting down the government over the wall?

ROONEY: I don't think it is worth shutting down the government at all. And I hope he Democrats don't do it.

Yes, ma'am. Thank you.

CABRERA: Thank you for joining us. Up next, we have more than breaking news and we are going to continue to talk about the terrifying half hour in Hawaii this morning. Statewide emergency message going out saying ballistic missiles were on the way. And again, this is such a false alarm. How the White House is now responding, straight ahead.


[15:43:50] CABRERA: Back to our breaking news right now. A terrifying half hour in Hawaii this morning. A statewide emergency message went out in saying ballistic missile were on the way. It ordered people to take immediate shelter. Fortunately, this was all an accident.

But for nearly 40 minutes, the people of Hawaii who got that message had every reason to believe they were under attack. Again it was a false alarm, but the panic and the terror was very real.

Take a look at this. This was a highway sign in Honolulu showing a frightening correction. So how is the White House now responding to all of this?

CNN's Boris Sanchez is in West Palm Beach where the President is spending the weekend.

Boris, what is the President saying?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ana, right now the White House is not saying much about this false alarm. They did confirm that the President was at his golf course here in West Palm Beach when the urgent message was first sent out. And then later 38 minutes later when we returned that it was a false alarm.

And then they put out the following statement, the White House writing quote "the President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii's emergency management exercise. This was purely a state exercise."

They later clarified and said that it was a state controlled exercise meaning that it was under the purview of officials within Hawaii and not any federal agency. The White House though not answering some key questions here, specifically when was the President briefed about this? When he found out it was a false alarm, whether or not he contacted anyone at the Pentagon or his national security council, further if we are receiving alerts on social media about this fake alert in Hawaii.

Then you have to imagine some of our allies in the region are seeing it as wrong. People in South Korea, in Japan, in China. Did the President or the White House hear from our allies in that part of the world? And if so, what was the response? We are not getting any indication of that so far.

We should also note that despite the President's comments this week that he may have a good relationship with Kim Jong-un and his appraising a direct talks between North and South Korea, this incident is a reminder that danger of nuclear war is now at our doorstep, Ana.

[15:45:54] CABRERA: Boris Sanchez, traveling with the President in Florida, thank you.

An actor from the new Marvel comic action movie Black Panther is now weighing in on the weighing in on the President's comments earlier this week. He is from the Ivory Coast. He is a DACA activist and he joins us live coming up.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go away.


[15:50:37] CABRERA: A bookstore in New York responded to the President's s-hole countries remark with the display entitled writers from S-hole countries. And take a look at this. It includes social justice (INAUDIBLE) like Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai. Well, actor Bambadjan Bamba who stars in the upcoming film "Black Panther," and undocumented immigrant also responded writing on Instagram, Africa is the richest continent in the world. It definitely has its problems but an s-hole continent? I don't think so.

Bambadjan Bamba is joining us now. Thank you, sir. You are from Ivory Coast. We have spoken about your family's journey to the U.S. when you were a child. After hearing what President Trump said about African nations, what is your message to the President?

BAMBADJAN BAMBA, ACTOR, BLACK PANTHER: Well, my message is if he actually said those comments, it is very disappointing. It is dehumanizing and it cuts really deep to the people who are from those countries.

And the reality is I don't know anybody from Africa or from Haiti that call themselves that word. And I am not even going to use that word because it gives it power. And I have been hearing so much in the news. I cannot even watch the news with my daughter anymore.

But I just want to like refocus this whole conversation, it is about getting a permanent fix for DACA. There is an urgent need for DREAMERs to get a solution. And it is also important for people to finally recognize how much Africans contribute, how much Asians, how much immigrant contributes to this country so that they can be appreciated. I mean, there are so many immigrants who are in the military putting their lives on the line to save this nation. So that's my message.

CABRERA: I appreciate that message. And I know what you mean about using that word in its full context. I have used it at least once this broadcast because I don't want to water down either. I mean, it has power when you hear it. It is hard to believe that anybody to say that led alone the President of the United States. Do you believe the President is a racist?

BAMBA: Look. Do I believe he is a racist? I don't know. But what I do know is if you are the President of the free world, we are expecting more from you. We are expecting you to use your power especially the power of the tongue that can bring life or death to bring life and not division and not pain and not suffering. When he uses words like this, it brings a lot of division. And it affects policy as far as the world is concerned. It affects how people see Africans, how people see Haitians or black people all around the world. It carries a lot of weight and a lot of values.

And what I have been receiving from my friends is a message of unity, a message of one like I am proud to be African. I am proud to be a part of America. Everyone just been saying look, we are embarrassed by these comments. They don't represent us. And we love you. And we appreciate the contributions that you brought to this country. And we want you to stay in continue to be a part of this great fabric. This is what America is about.

CABRERA: Finally, I have to ask you your new movie, "Black Panther" setting a new presell ticket record for all Marvel movies. We know it has predominantly Africa-American cast. What does this mean to you to see this kind of reactions and anticipation?

BAMBA: I am so excited. Because this is like history in the making. And the media in Hollywood gets it wrong so many times as far as Africa being a war torn place instead of this beautiful, amazing, phenomena that it is. So this film shows Africa in such an aspiring light of wealth, of dignity, of royalty and innovation. And it really helps us dream and believe and know that this is the potential that Africa actually has.

So I can't wait for the film. We are all excited. And I just want to tell all the fans out there that you will not be disappointed. Ryan Coogler with all in on this. All the casts, everyone who is a part of this film, we are just so excited to finally show Africa in the light that it deserves.

[15:55:05] CABRERA: Bambadjan Bamba, I appreciate your energy, your positive energy, your spirit, your passion for what you do and also for your country of origin.

Thank you very much for being a guest. And I hope we'll keep in touch.

BAMBA: Thank you so much, Ana. I really appreciate it.

CABRERA: Thank you.

Up next, back to our breaking news, a terrifying half hour in Hawaii this morning, a statewide emergency message went out saying ballistic missile is on the way. This was just a false alarm. But a lot of people did not know it for quite some time.

We will take you there live, next.


[15:59:53] CABRERA: Top of the hour. Thank you for being with us. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I am Ana Cabrera in New York.

Terrifying words today to everyone in the state of Hawaii. Missile inbound, this is not a drill.